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 Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences Department

Developing Industry Leaders

Through technology-enhanced practice facilities and cutting-edge research labs, Drexel’s PT programs allow students to develop advanced skills through evidence-based clinical practice, teaching and research.

Research

At the forefront of research, our world-class faculty will support you in your efforts to advance knowledge and make an impact. Explore our current research areas and view the dedicated laboratory space.

Mentors

DHSc Faculty Mentors

PhD Faculty Mentors

Research Studies

Engagement in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Intervention Process: Its Nature, Measurement, and Role in the Determination of Outcomes


Investigators

  • Gillian King, PhD, Holland Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, FAPTA; Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Jenny Ziviani, OT, PhD, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Anne Poulsen, OT, PhD, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Virginia Wright, PT, PhD, Holland Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Heidi Schwellnus, OT, Holland Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Roger Ideishi, OT, JD, FAOTA; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Summary / Overview

The engagement of children and youth with disabilities, and their parents, in rehabilitation interventions is critical to the success of these therapies. A fully engaged client is actively invested in the intervention session. He or she is receptive to what is happening, shares thoughts and experiences, and shows enthusiasm. She/he is also actively involved in a physical and behavioral sense. Client engagement has long been considered to enhance goal attainment and increase the cost-effectiveness of services; however, there are no measures of client engagement that have been created or validated for use in pediatric rehabilitation. Accordingly, research on the best ways of fostering engagement and its predictive value with respect to outcomes and costs has been hampered. >> (Download PDF)

Developmental Trajectories of Impairments, Health, and Participation of Children with Cerebral Palsy - Monitoring Development of Children with Cerebral Palsy or Gross Motor Delay

On TRACK Study


Investigators

  • Doreen Bartlett, PT, PhD, University of Western Ontario 
  • Sarah Westcott McCoy, PT, PhD, University of Washington
  • Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, FAPTA, Drexel University
  • Robert Palisano, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Drexel University
  • Lynn Jeffries, PT, PhD, PCS, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • Alyssa LaForme Fiss, PT, PhD, PCS, Mercer University
  • Steve Hanna, PhD, McMaster University
  • Jan Wilem Gorter, MD, PhD, McMaster University

Summary / Overview

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most prevalent childhood onset neuromuscular condition, and over 90% of all individuals with CP live well into adulthood. Beginning when their children are young, families need evidence to guide decisions on effective and cost efficient services and supports that build capacity and prepare children and youth for life as adults. The clinical manifestations of CP change with age, including a decline in motor function, which occurs in late childhood through adulthood, yet changes over time in postural control (a defining feature of CP), secondary impairments, and co-occurring health conditions have not been quantified. We propose to create developmental trajectories of impairments that change throughout childhood, the number and impact of associated health conditions, self-care abilities, and participation in family and community recreation. Creation of developmental curves would enable families of children with CP and health care providers to: 1) monitor a child’s development (developmental surveillance), 2) anticipate a child’s future strengths and needs (prognosis), and 3) proactively plan efficient services and supports to optimize a child’s health, function, education, social participation, and prevention of secondary impairments. >> (Download PDF)

Biomechanics of Lower Extremity Overuse Injuries in Recreationally Active People

Investigators
  • Clare E Milner, PhD, FACSM (PI) – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Trey Brindle, MS (Co-I) – PhD student, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences
Summary / Overview Unfortunately, there is a high rate of musculoskeletal injury in all runners, with some overuse injuries disproportionately affecting women. Three common overuse injuries occur in female runners more often than male runners: patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, and tibial stress fracture. >> (Download PDF)

Relationship between Core Stability and Athletic Injuries

Core Stability StudyInvestigators
  • Sheri P. Silfies, PT, PhD (PI) – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • David Ebaugh, PT, PhD – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Marisa Pontillo, PT, DPT, PhD Student, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Courtney Butowicz, MSEd, CSCS- PhD student Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
Summary / Overview The objectives of the grant are to 1) determine the strength of the association between clinical and lab-based measures of core stability in the athletic population and 2) identify the clinical and lab-based measures of core stability that are significant predictors of shoulder injuries in athletes.. Read Full Report. >> (Download PDF)

Mechanical Low Back Pain

Investigators
  • Sheri P. Silfies, PT, PhD (PI) – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Marco Cannella, PhD — FDA
  • Susan Smith, PT, PhD – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Simon Giszter, PhD – Neurobiology & Anatomy, College of Medicine, Drexel University
Summary / Overview

The objectives of the grant are to gain a better understanding of how trunk movement and stability are coordinated. Read Full Report. >> (Download PDF)

Validation of Clinical Observation of Aberrant Movement Patterns in Patients with Mechanical Low Back Pain

Investigators
  • Scott A. Biely, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC (Co-PI) – PhD Candidate, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University; Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Neumann College
  • Sheri P. Silfies, PT, PhD (Co-PI) – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Susan Smith, PT, PhD (Co-PI) – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
Summary / Overview
Observation of abnormal back movement patterns is considered an important characteristic in identifying patients who will respond positively to low back stabilization exercises or who have low back pain attributed to clinical spinal instability. Read Full Report. >>(Download PDF)

Osteoporosis & Bone Health

Investigators
  • Susan Smith, PT, PhD — Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Jan Meiers, PT, DPT, GCS — Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Elizabeth Wang-Hsu, PT, MS — PhD Candidate, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Han Chen, MD — PhD Student, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
Summary / Overview
Osteoporosis is “a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist, although any bone can be affected”. Read Full Report. >>(Download PDF)

Shoulder Dysfunction

wires taped to shoulderInvestigators
  • David Ebaugh, PT, PhD – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Bryan Spinelli, PT, MS, OCS, CLT – PhD Candidate, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Marisa Pontillo, PT, DPT, PhD Student, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
Summary / Overview
Shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) is a significant cause of shoulder pain in overhead athletes. Read Full Report. >>(Download PDF)

Activity and Participation of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Move & Play - Movement and Participation in Life Activities of Young Children

  mother and toddlers on slideInvestigators
  • Doreen Bartlett, PT, PhD, University of Western Ontario
  • Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, Drexel University
  • Robert Palisano, PT, PhD, Drexel University
  • Peter Rosenbaum MD, FRCP(C), McMaster University, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research
  • Sally Westcott McCoy PT, PhD, University of Washington
Summary / Overview
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most prevalent childhood neuromuscular condition seen by rehabilitation practitioners; however, the evidence base supporting rehabilitation practice from a holistic perspective is very weak. Read Full Document. >> (Download PDF)

Biomechanics of Running

therapist facing girls kneesInvestigators
  • Margo N. Orlin, PT, PhD – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Oluwabunmi (Bunmi) Oladeji, PT – PhD Candidate, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
  • Sirinart (Gan) Laibsirinon, PT, MS - PhD Candidate, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University
Summary / Overview
This project seeks to characterize the biomechanics of running in children with cerebral palsy ages 7-14. Read Full Document. >> (Download PDF)

Health Promotion, Fitness and Physical Activity

Validity of Accelerometry to Measure Physical Activity Intensity for Clinical Trials in Youth with Cerebral Palsy

 Investigators
  • Margaret E. O’Neil, PT, PhD, MPH, Drexel University
  • Maria Fragala-Pinkham, PT, DPT, MS, Franciscan Hospital for Children
  • Nancy Lennon, PT, MS, Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for Children
  • Stewart Trost, PhD, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia
  • Stephen M. Haley, PT, PhD, Boston University, School of Public Health, Health and Disability Research Institute
Summary / Overview
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability of childhood. Although CP is a non-progressive neuromuscular disorder, children with CP often experience decreased physical activity, fitness and functional mobility as they grow and age. Current trends in rehabilitation interventions include activity-based interventions to promote health and function. Objective measures of physical activity (accelerometers) are important to examine outcome effectiveness of these interventions. Further research is needed to validate accelerometers specifically for use in measuring physical activity levels in children and youth with CP. Read Full Document. >> (Download PDF)

School-Based Physical Therapy Services

Investigators
  • Susan Effgen, PT, PhD, FAPTA, University of Kentucky
  • Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, Drexel University
  • Sarah Westcott McCoy, PT, PhD, University of Washington
  • Lynn Jeffries, PT, PdD, PCS, University of Oklahoma
  • Heather Bush, PhD, University of Kentucky
Summary / Overview

Physical therapy as a related service in schools contributes to the educational programming of students in the least restricted environment, enhancing students’ successful participation in school and community activities leading to further education, employment and independence. Read Full Report. >>(Download PDF)