Current Research Projects:

MRI Based Joint Injury Research

Scapholunate dissociation (SL ligament disruption) is essentially a severe sprain of the wrist, resulting in the rupture of the ligament between two carpal (wrist) bones. This trauma can cause changes in joint kinematics and contact patterns, which can lead to secondary radiocarpal osteoarthritis (OA) with advanced collapse (SLAC wrist). The relationship between consequent abnormal mechanics and the onset of OA is not clearly understood, however elevated joint contact pressure is believed to be an associated factor. Knowing how injuries affect joint physiology and mechanics and how well surgical repairs restore the mechanics may improve surgical efficacy and help predict OA risk. The objective of this research is to compare radiocarpal joint mechanics from injured wrists to contralateral controls and also injured versus surgically repaired wrists using MRI-based contact modeling primarily. Finite element (FE) modeling is also used to investigate 3D stresses and strains from cartilage surface to subchondral bone. We are also evaluating the biochemical status of the cartilage in these joints using MR imaging.


Evaluation of Dynamic Seat Cushion

Many people who use wheelchairs to meet their mobility needs have difficulty relieving pressure at the seat interface, either due to lack of upper body strength to move about the seat, or as they suffer from lack of sensation which prevents detection of pain, which arises due to unrelieved pressure. Dynamic seat cushions circumvent this situation by changing the pressure characteristics at alternating points on the seat cushion interface. Shape of the cushion is controlled by air-cells which inflate and deflate in a fixed cycle, called cycle-time. These air-cells can also vary in size.
The present study tries to determine the efficacy in relieving pressure of these dynamic seat cushions, including the influence of cycle time and area of each cell, compared to commercially available static seat cushions.


Determining Natural Head Angle for Extant Animal Species

It has been hypothesized that the that the eye socket structure and opening for the optical nerve in the skeletal remains can be used (based on a horizontal line of sight) to accurately determine the natural head angle for a range of extant and extinct animal species. The current project uses this technique to predict the natural head angle for a range of extant animal species. Success of this research project and confirmation of the hypothesis will provide a valuable tool for naturalists as they attempt to determine the correct structure and natural positions that the extinct animals are likely to have assumed.


DVD-Guided Mental Practice for Stroke Rehab

Studies have shown that mental practice improves rehabilitation outcomes over standard therapy, but it still has not become a standard of care. We will investigate a DVD-guided visualization system to enhance post-stroke rehabilitation outcomes. The visualization is not entirely mental imagery, but the patient watches a video of an ideal motion and rehearses the activity in his/her mind. The goals of this research are to 1) increase the rate of recovery and 2) increase the level of recovery for stroke patients with physical impairment of upper extremity movement. Subjects will be divided into three groups: 1) those with the novel DVD-guided visualization tool, 2) those who receive basic mental visualization training (fully mental imagery practice), and 3) control subjects who do no mental practice whatsoever. Subject function will be evaluated by means of the InMotion2 Shoulder-Elbow Robot, and a streamlined Wolff Motor Function Test for upper extremity at baseline, 3 weeks, and 6 weeks after intervention. These tasks will provide quantitative data on the physical capability of the each subject at each time point. Data will be analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA to examine differences in speed and accuracy between the three subject groups.