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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research

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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
  • Neuroprosthetics
  • The role of stem cells in neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy
  • The role of age and degenerative disk diseases

Pitt+Me Clinical Trials

The Pitt+Me initiative​ is a program of the University of Pittsburgh's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) that engages researchers, patients, and volunteers from the greater Pittsburgh community in an effort to advance science and improve health for future generations. 

We encourage you to join the more than 100,000 participants in the Pitt+Me Registry who have signed up to receive our newsletter and hear more about research opportunities that may be of interest. 

Learn more about research studies and clinical trials that are related to physical medicine and rehabilitation​.