Rehabilitation Research

Acquired, congenital and genetic disorders of the brain, as well as other childhood disorders (such as those involving the musculoskeletal system), may result in impaired function, decreased abilities and decreased participation in activities at home, school and within the community. This change in function may be related to impairments in multiple areas, including cognition (learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities), behavior (ADHD and psychiatric disorders) and motoric abilities (cerebral palsy, spasticity or abnormalities of tone and movement disorders). The goal of the rehabilitation process is to improve function and optimize performance.

The Institute's rehabilitation research focuses on prediction and measurement of outcome, ways to improve those outcomes, as well as evaluating mechanisms of sensory-motor control and motor recovery. The outcome measurement research focuses on the development of instruments that measure meaningful recovery during the rehabilitation process, models of care and their effect on outcome and understanding and improving the clinical outcomes of multiple conditions, such as: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Acquired Brain Injury, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Brachial Plexopathies, Chronic Graft versus Host Disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Torticollis and Craniocervical deformities and Limb Differences.

In addition to clinical measures that are used to define and predict outcome, we also use quantitative MRI and motion analysis in our research. These methods are used to predict outcome, improve our understanding of brain-behavior relationships (effects on cognition, behavior, movement, etc.) and evaluate the effect of therapeutic interventions. In the area of movement, this research focuses on understanding how damage to the brain or spinal cord contributes to movement disorders and how and why different treatments, such as botulinum toxin and specific physical and occupational therapies (e.g., use of the split belt treadmill or constraint induced movement therapy in children with hemiplegia) improve movement.

Also, in collaboration with the acute trauma and critical care services, therapeutic trials in children with acquired brain injury assess treatments designed to improve long term outcome and improve our understanding of acute mechanisms of brain injury.

The Institute's program in rehabilitation research is making discoveries on brain-behavior relationships, measuring, predicting and improving outcomes and translating basic science to the bedside in trials aimed at improving the lives of children with disabilities.