NIH has provided about $30 million over a five year period to fund a network of centers to advance medical rehabilitation research and provide access to new technologies and resources. Rehabilitation research is done to promote recovery, adaptation, and functioning for patients with disabilities resulting from stroke, spinal cord injuries or brain injuries, developmental or regenerative disorders, or other persistent physical conditions.
The funding comes from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) located within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and also from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
The centers are located at Stanford University, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C., University of California, San Diego, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Boston University, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Dartmouth College and Simbex, Inc. in New Hampshire.
The “Medical Rehabilitation Research Network” within NCMRR connects the research community with courses and workshops, research facilities, mentorship, and provides for consultations with experts at the network centers. In addition, the network provides researchers with small grants to test new ideas.
The network provides expertise is such areas as:
• Computer simulations for understanding movement disorders and to evaluate how potential interventions might affect those movements
• Techniques for analyzing how genes and molecules influence the recovery process
• Technologies for studying muscle action and function
• Assistance in tracking how all treatments meet the needs of patients
• Analyzing population data to evaluate the broader impact of rehabilitative treatments and health services
• Studying how robots and sensors can be used to assist patients and help deliver therapeutic treatments
• Assessing new rehabilitation technologies and then be able to bring these new therapeutic devices to the market place
During the first year of funding, the network supported a variety of pilot projects. For example, pilots studied sensors to help amputees control prosthetic devices, how to develop devices for preventing falls in the elderly, and ways to monitor blood flow to and in the brain.
For more information, go to www.ncmrr.org.