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Rehabilitation center to reshape therapy

By Dawn Brazell
Public Relations

Eric Monsch walked about the Locomotor Energetics and Assessment Lab with 65 red lights flashing about his body, 12 cameras mounted high on the walls monitoring his every move.

This motion capture system— the same type used by the Black Eyed Peas to animate its latest music video—is coupled with a split-belt treadmill that measures the forces acting on Monsch's feet. The data being collected will allow researchers to create a specific mathematical model of his musculo-skeletal system with a high power computer.

Physical therapy student Eric Monsch demonstrates the technology in the locomotor analysis lab.

It was one of the demonstrations being held May 4 as visitors packed MUSC's Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurological Conditions at 77 President St. to celebrate the center's grand opening. It's a center expected to reshape the way rehabilitation therapy is done for a variety of neurological conditions, including stroke, spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy.

Like a proud father, Steve Kautz Ph.D., the center's co-director, points out features of the lab's high-tech capabilities, explaining how some of the equipment is the only kind of its design in the world. Data that used to take hours to process at a cost of more than $50,000 now can be done in seconds given the equipment's sophistication.

Kautz said the center will be developing the next generation of rehabilitation practice.

"Cutting-edge technology will allow us to develop new measurement techniques and better clinical assessments that will allow clinicians to define a patient's specific deficits and link them to the affected underlying systems," he said. "While we will use the state-of-the-art tools you will see today to develop these measures, our ultimate goal is to also develop either low tech or inexpensive versions of these measures that could be available in clinics throughout South Carolina."

Another aspect of the center receiving rave reviews is its collaborative approach, said Lisa Saladin, Ph.D., interim dean of MUSC's College of Health Profession. While the center is one of only five of this kind in the nation, how it plans to partner with other groups sets it apart even more.

"Our researchers have already developed collaborative partnerships with the Stroke Center of Excellence, the Department of Neuroscience, and the Center for Advance Imaging Research within MUSC as well as the Clemson/MUSC bioengineering program, the Veteran's Administration and the Department of Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston."

Visitors watch a demonstration of a ZeroG mobile body weight support system in the Locomotor Rehabilitation Lab.

Dr. Jesse Dean demonstrates a passive exoskeleton device.

Jim Krause, Ph.D., and co-director of the center, set the stage for the center with his research focus on risk assessment and prevention of adverse outcomes for those with spinal cord injury, said Kautz. "With the new labs you will see today, the center is building on this strength by adding a second research focus on neurorehabilitation research that will assist clinicians in getting the best outcome possible for each individual."

Plans for the center include partnering with:
--The College of Medicine to incorporate the latest technologies in neuroimaging and brain stimulation
-- The MUSC Stroke Center of Excellence to tackle the important problem of advancing stroke rehabilitation, which is a tremendous need since the state has the highest incidence of stroke in the country
--The MUSC/Clemson bioengineering facility being built nearby to develop innovative new technologies
--And the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

Kautz, a research career scientist at the VA Medical Center, said this center provides investigators at both institutions great opportunities to build their research programs. MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., agreed saying that the center strengthens an already strong tie between the two groups.

"So much of the work of this center will be focused on taking care of our veteran population, many of whom have been wounded and suffered spinal cord injuries from their service in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Dr. Heather Shaw Bonilha explains the research being done in the Voice and Swallowing Lab.

Grants administrator Wally Pregnall shows off the PhaseSpace movement analysis system in the upper extremity motor function lab.

Greenberg said the grand opening marks a much-needed milestone in the university's history.

"It's one of the most exciting events at the medical university—not just this year but in a long time—because it's just such an important area, and it's been truly underrepresented at the medical university both on the clinical and the research side for so many years. Now we really have the growth in neurosciences and the recruitment of a truly world-class research team to partner with them. We have the elements of building a world-class physical rehabilitation program."

For more information on the center, visit its official grand opening website at

Did You Know?
The 22,355 square-foot center includes six high-tech labs in the areas of Locomotor Energetics and Assessment, Locomotor Rehabilitation, Upper Extremity Motion Function, Neuromuscular Assessment, Voice and Swallowing and Neurological Conditions Research.

Dr. Noelle Moreau in the Neuromuscular Assessment Lab explains her research studying cerebral palsy in children.

It is one of only five other centers with this range of capabilities in the nation.

The center has already created eight new jobs within the last year and center researchers have generated $5 million in external research funding in the first three quarters of this fiscal year.

The center is estimated to cost $8 million to build and sustain. It has already received a commitment for $2.3 million toward the completion of its research labs. An additional $1 million in funds for three new faculty lines will be sought through federal grants. The remaining $5 million will need to be raised through a combination of private and public sector contributions.

Cutting the ribbon are: Drs. Ray Greenberg (from left), Mark Sothmann, Steve Kautz, Jim Krause and Lisa Saladin.

Continued success of this Center will attract scholars, educators and clinical practitioners to SC, will increase the amount of federally-sponsored research funds returning to the state, and will contribute to economic growth in the local economy.



Friday, May 13, 2011

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.