Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research

Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research

A Featured HJF Research Program

The Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research (CRSR) was established in 2011 under the leadership of retired Army Colonel Paul F. Pasquina, M.D., inaugural chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at USU, and managed by HJF employee Brad M. Isaacson, Ph.D., to advance the rehabilitative care for service members with combat-related injuries, particularly those with orthopedic trauma, limb loss and neurological complications.

The center provides a unique platform for fostering innovative research by incorporating clinical and technical advances in the rehabilitative care for service members and by partnering with numerous Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and civilian partners, including the Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center of Excellence, Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, and Consortium for Human and Military Performance. These partnerships allow the sharing of resources and rapid dissemination of information within the DoD and civilian community.

Today, with Pasquina serving as CRSR’s director and chair of USU’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Isaacson as program manager and lead scientist, the center has grown to 51 projects.

“We truly care about our service members their family members and dependents. Our research is patient-centric, and we want to help them reach their dreams,” said Isaacson, an internationally recognized expert on ectopic bone formation.

The center has four focus areas. These functions explore innovative treatment and technology such as barriers to successful reintegration, improvements to pain management strategies, applications of new technologies and the transfer of those novel platforms. To provide comprehensive treatment strategies for service members, the center engages in personal interactions through ethnographic interviewing and uses the latest advances in technology to further understand physiology, gait and kinematics.

In 2014, CRSR teamed with the Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF) to investigate a minimally invasive, intuitive, multi-channel control system for prosthetics to help wounded warriors at Walter Reed Bethesda. The sensors are implanted into the residual limb muscles and can help provide intuitive prosthetic control.

“The first two individuals to try the system love it and the third individual just had the system implanted. The motion is intuitive and very fluid,” Isaacson said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The AMF IMES® system allows subjects to operate three different prosthetic movements simultaneously—opening and closing the hand, rotating the wrist, and moving the thumb. In the future, the team hopes to target as many as four simultaneous degrees of freedom and the ability to combine preprogrammed patterned movements. The ongoing trial with injured service members is taking place at Walter Reed Bethesda.

“If we give them something that’s much more functional, we hope that not only is it going to help them in their quality of life today, but in their quality of life tomorrow,” Pasquina told NBC News in January 2014.