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UPMC/Pitt Researchers Awarded NIH R41 Grant for Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery Remote Monitoring Rehabilitation Platform

February 22, 2023

A team of multidisciplinary investigators from the Departments of Bioengineering, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Physical Therapy at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, and musculoskeletal solutions technology company ēlizur, based in Pittsburgh, was awarded a National Institutes of Health R41 grant that will support developing and testing a remote monitoring system called CuffLink that will allow patients who undergo rotator cuff surgical repair to perform remotely monitored rehabilitation exercises safely at home.

Pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Michael McClincy, MD, director of the Hip Preservation Program in the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, serves at the primary investigator, alongside co-primary investigator Kevin Bell, PhD, from the Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and co-investigator Adam Popchak, PT, PhD, SCS, from the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Also collaborating on the study are Larry Grollman, MBA, and Jim Grant from ēlizur, and Bambang Parmanto, PhD, and Andi Saptono, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh.

The study will combine a device developed by elizur known as the Shoulder Strengthening and Stabilization System (SSS) with an existing wearable remote joint rehabilitation monitoring system called interACTION to create the new CuffLink remote monitoring system.

The CuffLink system will allow shoulder surgery patients to conduct physician-directed rehabilitation therapy at home using the SSS device that will have a remote monitoring, telehealth application integrated for capturing patient movement data and analysis by clinicians.

The system will allow real-time monitoring and feedback from the clinician to the patient while they are performing their therapy exercise and recovering at home.

The system has several significant potential clinical benefits, including cost savings, more efficient use of clinician time, and improved patient adherence and recovery from shoulder surgery.

A system like CuffLink can also allow patients in remote areas, or with limited ability to travel, to safely conduct their therapy at home while their doctor and therapist track their progress.

“Shoulder surgery is quite common in the US, and optimal rehabilitation is crucial for patients to regain their strength, range of motion, and avoid future disability,” says Dr. McClincy. “A remote system like CuffLink has a lot of potential clinical utility to help patients recover and do so more efficiently, and it is quite conceivable that if we are successful, the technology could be adapted to other orthopaedic conditions or surgeries, for example, hip surgery or replacement.

Learn more about the grant.