Faculty Research

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Below is a list of research being conducted by faculty through grants.

Ross Zafonte, D.O.,Vice President of Medical Affairs for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and the Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Zafonte’s research is funded by the DOD, NIH, and NIDRR, corporate and private foundations. He is participating as the Principal Investigator in the TBI/PTSD national consortium funded by the Department of Defense and the Principal Site Investigator in a multicenter trail funded by NIDRR to look at the effect of an FDA approved medication on irritability and aggression in the TBI population. He is passionate about raising awareness and expanding the knowledge base of brain injury to improve outcomes and quality of life for the patient, family and community. Other projects include:
• Neuroprosthetics and solutions for restoring sensorimotor function
• The Cimit-TBI Program: Innovation From the Lab to the Clinic
• Harvard Clinical Defense Consortium: PTSD/TBI Clinical Consortium
• Neuroimaging Leadership for the PTSD-TBI Clinical Consortium
• Development of MRI imaging techniques to precisely identify the area of the brain impacted by the traumatic injury
• TBI Model System Collaborative Clinical Study of Amantadine for Post-TBI Irritability and Aggression
• Phase II Clinical Study to Treat Severe Brain Injury Patients in a Vegetative State
• Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Trials Network – DCC
• Collaborating with the Department of Defense in the development of treatment paradigms for the returning veteran population effected by TBI and PTSD
• Use of non-pharmacological tools to stimulate the regeneration of neurons
• Novel uses of pharmacologic interventions to improve outcomes for the minimally conscious and vegetative populations, and to decrease irritability and aggression and insomnia in the mild TBI population

 

Jonathan Bean, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. Director Center for Life Long Health and Fitness, Director of Research Education and Training for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Bean’s research is focused upon developing a rehabilitation-based disability prevention strategy for older adults. His work addresses both the identification of modifiable impairments which underlie mobility decline among older adult; and the development of rehabilitative interventions to ameliorate and prevent mobility related disability. He has received career development awards from both the American Geriatrics Society and the National Institute on Aging. His work is funded by the NIH and private foundations. Other projects include:
• Efficacy of a Post Rehabilitation Exercise Intervention
• Developing Rehabilitative Strategies For Disability Prevention In Primary Care
• Live Long Walk Strong: A Fall Prevention Program
• “Boston RISE” (Rehabilitative Impairment Study of the Elderly) to evaluate modifiable risk factors for decline in mobility skills and disability among older adults

 

Paolo Bonato, Ph.D., Director Motion Analysis Laboratory
Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, and Member of the Affiliated Faculty, the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology

Current Projects
Dr. Bonato’s research is funded by the NIH, NSF and private foundations. His projects are focused on gait and mobility impairments.  He is developing techniques to overcome the challenges inherent in combining traditional, laboratory-based assessments with real-life observations performed via wearable technology in the home and community settings. Dr. Bonato has conducted studies performed in the MAL range from evaluating gait in children with cerebral palsy to support surgical and rehabilitation decisions. Additionally, he has explored the building of biomechanical models of joint biomechanics for the design of novel prosthetic and orthotic devices that monitor exercise compliance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This assists the assessment of long-term responses to adjustments in medication intake in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Other projects include:
• Active  Knee Rehabilitation orthotic Device with Variable Damping  Characteristics
• Medium: Pelvic Obliquity Rehabilitation in Stroke Patents
• Enhancing Parkinson Control Therapy by Stimulation Subthalamic Nucleus Via Measures of Motor Response
• Developing New Technologies for Home Therapy of Individuals who Suffered TBI
• Applying a Multidimensional Algorithm For Motor Control
• Wearable Sensors and a Web based Application
• Effect of Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation and Non Spatial Attention Training

 

Felipe Fregni, M.D., Ph.D., M.M.Sc., M.P.H, Director for the Laboratory of Neuromodulation, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Fregni’s research is funded by the NIH and private foundations. His current projects are focused on mobility impairments and chronic pain.  The focus of his research has largely been centered upon developing methods of non-invasive brain stimulation such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as potential treatment tools for certain neurological and psychiatric disorders. He is also interested in investigating the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of neuromodulatory tools in neuropsychiatric disorders using quantitative EEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation and neuroimaging. Finally, Dr. Fregni has a large CME course on methodology in clinical research and is also interested in developing new methodological approaches for medical device trials. Other projects include:
• TDCS to induce motor and cognitive functioning in Parkinson’s Disease
• Mobility impairments and chronic pain
• Developing methods of non-invasive brain stimulation such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as potential treatment tools for certain neurological and psychiatric disorders
• Investigating the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of neuromodulatory tools in neuropsychiatric disorders using quantitative EEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation and neuroimaging
• Effects of transcrannial DC stimulation coupled with constraint induced movement therapy on motor function in stroke patients

 

Mel Glenn, M.D., Director of the Spaulding/Partners Longitudinal Follow-up Center for the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Glen’s project for the longitudinal follow-up program is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) through a contract with the National Data and Statistical Center (NDSC) at Craig Hospital in Colorado. By continuing to do follow-up interviews on participants previously enrolled in the database by Spaulding, we support a national database of patients with traumatic brain injury that is used to conduct research on all aspects of care. Dr. Glenn is PI on one such multicenter study: "Outcome of combined traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury." Other projects include:
• Brain injury rehabilitation, motor control, cognitive rehabilitation
• Psychopharmacology in brain injury

 

Leslie Morse, M.D. Staff Physician, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Associates, Instructor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Morse’s research is focused on understanding the impact of spinal cord injury on bone.  Her long term goal is to develop therapies to stop ongoing bone loss and decrease fracture rates in this population.  She currently studies osteoporosis in humans with chronic spinal cord injury to gain a better understanding of the factors associated with osteoporosis severity, to define the nature history of SCI-induced osteoporosis, and to improve fracture risk assessment.  She recently received a 2-year grant from the National Institute of Health to study determinants of bone density in spinal cord injured veterans.  Other projects include:
• Role of osteoblast survival in osteoporosis following spinal cord injury
• Developing therapies to stop ongoing bone loss and decrease fracture rates in this population  osteoporosis in humans with chronic spinal cord injury to gain a better understanding of the factors associated with osteoporosis severity,
• Defining the nature history of SCI-induced osteoporosis, and to improve fracture risk assessment. 

 

Jeffery Schneider, M.D., Medical Director of the Trauma, Burn and Orthopedic Program, Instructor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Schneider’s research focuses on long-term outcomes after burn injury.  He is currently working on the “Development and Feasibility Assessment of a Novel Gaming System for Children with Upper Extremity Burn Contractures.”  This research is supported by The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center.  This research is in collaboration with the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding and Shriners Hospital for Children – Boston.  Dr. Schneider is also involved in a project examining the efficacy of burn rehabilitation using a national data base from Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation. Other projects include: 
• Burn outcomes
• Burn rehabilitation technology

 

J. Andrew Taylor, Ph.D., Director Cardiovascular Research Laboratory
Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Taylor’s research is funded by the NIH. His current projects investigate the mechanisms of the changes in cardiovascular function associated with healthy aging and age-related diseases as well as interventions such as exercise, statin treatment, and reducing oxidative stress to prevent or overcome cardiovascular declines associated with coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. These projects employ a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including micromeurography, Doppler ultrasound, Ultrasonography, signal processing, exercise testing and indirect calorimetry to assess aerobic fitness, and a variety of mathematical and statistical analyses to model and assess cardiovascular regulation. Other projects include:
• Exploring the physiology of short-term control of cerebral blood flow in humans
• Vascular function after exposure of humans to hypoxia
• Arterial stiffness and age – effects on circulatory control
• Determine the effectiveness of hybrid-FES row training to provide an optimal aerobic exercise stimulus for beneficial cardiovascular adaptations in SCI
• cardiovascular effects of sleep apnea
• cardiovascular/autonomic benefits of yogic breathing 
• physiologic transduction of sympathetic outflow in regional vascular resistance in humans

 

 

Irene Davis, Director, Spaulding National Running Center,
Faculty, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School

Current Projects
Dr. Davis’ research focuses on health promotion and disease prevention through regular exercise.  Dr Davis believes that regular exercise will result in greater long-term productivity and lower healthcare costs. Running is an important component of many Americans’ fitness regimens. In fact, it has been suggested recently that we evolved to run, making running possibly one of the most natural forms of exercise we can choose. Dr. Davis is currently lead part of the Bader (Bridging Advanced Developments to Enhance Rehabilitation) Consortium hub initiatives,  focused on running.  She will apply her research in the area of gait retraining to reduce faulty mechanics in soldiers with amputations in order to optimize performance and reduce injury risk.

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