Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR)
The center is located on the campus of the University of Minnesota. They have a lot of equipment on site. Here is a list for those interested. (https://www.cmrr.umn.edu/resources/) They have a 16.4 Tesla machine but it is not for humans… The building is set up in such a way that there is an MRI room down every corridor. It is quite impressive.
In addition to the CMRR, there are quite a few medical facilities on the campus, devoted to high specialized needs. There is also a hospital, as well as an extension of the Mayo Clinic.
The study was conducted by Dr. Gulin Oz (U of M), Dr. Khalaf Bushara (U of M), and Dr. Gomez (Chicago). My main contact for the study was Diana Hutter. Diane was the person that initially contacted me about the study, and worked with me during the entire process. She also evaluated me when I arrived at the CMRR and stayed with me while I was at the facility.
While I was there, I also met a graduate student who was doing research to find a correlation between the size of a person’s cerebellum and the intelligibility of their speech. The evaluation only took a few minutes, and I was happy to help.
The reason for my trip was to have 2 MRIs. The first was done on a 5 Tesla machine. The second was done on a 7 Tesla machine. As a point of reference, most MRI machines operate at 1.5 Tesla. Although there was a major difference in the overall construction and wiring, the scan was the same as those I had done before. The newer machine actually had a fan, which was nice. Believe it or not, I fell asleep.
Most of you that know me know that I have a generally positive disposition about my medical conditions. I am very blessed in my life and I have so much that helps me get through the day. However, it is sometimes hard to be hopeful that I will live to see significant advances that will improve the quality of life for ataxians. That was not the case, though, during my visit. I was in a “hotbed” of SCA research and I got to meet many people that were devoted to ataxia. I also saw and read about some of the progress being made, and it was very reassuring.