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Deniz Dishman, Assistant Professor, Department of Research, received a $100,000 award from PARTNER’S for her proposal, “Biomarkers Illuminating Pain After Stroke (BIPAS)”. (COPY_1709658239137)

The study will utilize EEG testing to measure and identify signals in the brain associated with shoulder pain in post-stroke patients

Nurse placing EEG electrodes onto patient

Following a stroke, survivors live with numerous complications impacting their function, communication and overall quality of life. Post-stroke pain is a common complication, and shoulder pain is the most frequently reported pain type. As many as 70% of stroke survivors report shoulder pain. This shoulder pain can be associated with shoulder subluxation and motor weakness in the arm. Spasticity, an abnormal increase in muscle tone or stiffness of a muscle, also can be associated with this pain.

Pain can be a barrier to participating in much needed rehabilitation, critical for the post-stroke patients' road to recovery. Pain also leads to or can worsen depression, and can contribute to decline in cognitive and mental faculties. Without rehabilitation, recovery is slow and may become stagnant. Assistant Professor, Deniz Dishman, with the Department of Research at theCizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston and the Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease is focused on increasing stroke survivors’ ability to participate in rehab.

Her proposal, Biomarkers Illuminating Pain After Stroke (BIPAS), received a $100,000 PARTNER’S Nursing Research Award to conduct a study using EEG testing to measure and identify signals in the brain associated with shoulder pain. Dr. Dishman and her team will look for shared patterns among the EEGs of post-stroke patients with shoulder pain. Using these patterns from quantitative EEG (qEEG) analysis, their hope is that they will be able to target new treatments for post-stroke patients.

When asked what success looks like for BIPAS, Dr. Dishman explained, “Being able to see common brain map patterns will allow us to target specific areas of pain perception and target treatments, like neurofeedback or transcranial magnetic stimulation, to increase our patients’ recovery efforts, reduce instances of mental health decline, increase quality of life, and hopefully so much more.”

BIPAS investigators are looking to start recruiting patients in October/November 2022. Patients will need to travel to MD Anderson for the study visit to receive the non-invasive EEG test.

Inclusion Criteria

  • Stroke survivors who report shoulder pain (within the out-patient rehabilitation system – either in EHR or by provider report) No comorbid cancer diagnosis or pre-existing (prior to stroke) pain condition
  • Age 18 and older (adult stroke survivors only), with no gender restriction.
  • Ability to provide informed consent.
  • If men and women of reproducible age are enrolled, all contraception methods for the trial are allowable.
  • Must be able to get to the Prinsloo Laboratory at MD Anderson cancer center.

Exclusion Criteria

  • Neurological disease other than stroke or medical illness affecting brain functioning.
  • Pre-stroke pain condition
  • Cancer history of any type

The study will be performed at MD Anderson's Prinsloo Laboratory. The study steps will be completed in 1 visit and will take about 2 hours. There will be an incentive gift card given for completion of the study.

Contact information:

Deniz Dishman, PhD, CRNA


Dr. Deniz Dishman’s team includes:

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson

Physical Medicine and Rehab at TIRR Memorial Hermann

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Professor at the UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics

Professor, McGovern Medical School and Director, UTHealth Houston Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease

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