Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research
The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is among the top recipients of funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for rehabilitation research funding. We also receive funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, VA Health System, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Foundation of PM&R, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
Exceeding $6 million, this funding gives our patients access to cutting-edge research, clinical trials, and technology not available anywhere else in the region.
Our research has resulted in advancements in diagnostic mechanisms, treatments, and rehabilitation therapies and increased independence for patients. Scientific initiatives have led to the development of new therapies, more effective rehabilitation technology, and greater understanding of physical and cognitive impairments.
Together, our physicians work not only to shape the rehabilitative care for our patients, but for patients around the country.
For a recent example of a rehabilitation research advancement, read about how a Pitt-UPMC team used Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology to help a paralyzed man feel again through a mind-controlled robotic arm.
Rehabilitation Research Areas of Interest
Doctors and scientists at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute are partnering with other departments and laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to find answers to these and other questions, listed below.
- What happens to the brain after a traumatic injury?
- Can paralysis be manipulated after a stroke?
- Can repetitive motion injuries be prevented in wheelchair users?
- What are the mechanics of lower back pain and how does physical activity affect it?
Learn more about the PM&R's research, resources, and partnerships.
Current Rehab Research
Some of the rehab-related topics we are currently researching include:
- The inner workings of the brain
- Effects of gender on recovery after brain injury
- Mechanics of movement
- Robotic aids
- The role of stem cells in neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy
- The role of age and degenerative disk diseases
Volunteer for Clinical Research Trials
Our research projects often need volunteers. If you have an interest in volunteering for a rehabilitation clinical trial, select “rehabilitation” in the study finder for research in this field.
UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh list clinical research trials on the Office of Clinical Research website.