UPMC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Faculty’s Latest Research Focuses on Assistive Devices and Intervertebral Discs

September 21, 2022

With a staff of award-winning physicians, researchers, and faculty, the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) treats patients at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute for inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and outpatient physician services. The Department's reputation for the science and practice of rehabilitation attracts top doctors and investigators who continue to make advances in both clinical and research environments. Read about some of the research advances the Department has made throughout this year.

Assistive Devices

Type and Frequency of Wheelchair Repairs and Resulting Adverse Consequences Among Veteran Wheelchair Users

Bradley Dicianno, MD, Michael Boninger, MD, and Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, published research assessing the number of wheelchair repairs needed, if the repairs resulted in adverse consequences for users, the number and types of repairs completed, and the location where the main repair was completed in the previous 6 months.

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Effectiveness of a Web-Based Direct-to-User Transfer Training Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research which found that wheelchair users are likely to benefit from transfer training and self-assessment of transfer quality in their home environments, leading to a potential to decrease injury risk while avoiding barriers to in-person training.

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Changes in Internet Use Over Time Among Individuals with Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Gina Mckernan, PhD, Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research that explores changes in internet use over time and determines how demographic characteristics are related to changes in internet use among individuals with spinal cord injury.

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Efficacy of a Remote Train-the-Trainer Model for Wheelchair Skills Training Administered by Clinicians: A Cohort Study With Pre- vs Post Training Comparisons

Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research that tested whether remote training improves trainer confidence and how the level of trainer confidence influences the wheelchair skills capacity and overall confidence of the trainees.

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Factors Influencing Incidence of Wheelchair Repairs and Consequences Among Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research that explores the frequency and consequences of wheelchair repairs, focusing on key factors such as relationship to usage, components, out-of-pocket costs, and the number of days the user cannot use their wheelchair.

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Effectiveness of Group Wheelchair Maintenance Training for People with Spinal Cord Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Gina Mckernan, PhD, Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research which found that group training can improve advanced wheelchair skills capacity and facilitate achievement of individually set goals.

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Intra- and Interrater Reliability of Remote Assessment of Transfers by Wheelchair Users Using the Transfer Assessment Instrument (Version 4.0)

Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, and Michael Boninger, MD, published research demonstrating that the Transfer Assessment Instrument (Version 4.0) is a reliable outcome measure for assessing transfer technique remotely.

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Intervertebral Disc Degeneration

Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, recently published three research studies that focus on intervertebral disc degeneration:

Percutaneous Lumbar Annular Puncture: A Rat Model to Study Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and Pain-Related Behavior

This study reports on the first successful development of a minimally invasive percutaneous puncture procedure to induce intervertebral disc degeneration in a rat model.

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ISSLS Prize in Bioengineering Science 2022: Low Rate Cyclic Loading as a Therapeutic Strategy for Intervertebral Disc Regeneration 

The purpose of this study was to determine if a sustained low rate cyclic loading regimen could slow, arrest, or reverse intervertebral disc degeneration in the rabbit lumbar spine.

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Ionizing Radiation Induces Disc Annulus Fibrosus Senescence and Matrix Catabolism via MMP-Mediated Pathways

Results from this study have important clinical implications in the potential adverse effects of ionizing radiation on spinal health.

Learn more here.