Research Accomplishments - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC Research Accomplishments

The collective desire to utilize science to assist people with disabilities – to help them realize the most fulfilling and independent life possible – is the foundation and inspiration behind the research that is conducted by the scientists, researchers and physicians at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's (RIC) Searle Rehabilitation Research Center. Some of the noteworthy accomplishments of our research initiatives include:

Neural Engineering

  • Innovations in neural engineering have promoted functional recovery from neurological injury and limb loss. These approaches offer radical improvements in voluntary control of upper extremity prostheses in high-level amputees. Neural engineering for new brain machine interfaces; implanted brain recording chips in human subjects with quadriplegia. Read about former RIC patient Jesse Sullivan, the world's first bionic man, who benefited from our neural engineering research.
  • Neural engineering for recovery of function in stroke: brain stimulation with surgically implanted surface cortical stimulators (Northstar).

Rehabilitation Robotics for Treatment of Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury

  • RIC was the first hospital in North America to utilize the robotic gait trainer—the "Lokomat®" — in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
  • Developed simple mechanical devices for restoration of hand function in stroke.
  • Developed home-based mechanical rehabilitation trainer with online communication.

Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Stroke

  • Development of new portable virtual reality interventions (PARIS) for neurological recovery in stroke.
  • Retraining of posture and gait using virtual reality immersion in the elderly with postural instability.

Computer-Based Aphasia Therapy

  • Development of new computer-based aphasia therapies for efficient treatment of stroke-induced aphasia

Improved Fertility in People with Spinal Cord Injuries

  • The incidence of successful conception of men with impaired fertility as a result of a spinal cord injury has increased from near zero to a level between 20-25%, and it continues to improve.
  • Pressure sores in patients with spinal cord injury have been reduced by more than 50%, and fatality from urinary infections has been virtually eliminated. The occurrence of potentially fatal thromboembolism in stroke and spinal cord injury has also been reduced by more than half.

Improved Understanding of Spasticity Allows Novel Therapeutic Interventions

  • Helped develop methods to quantify spasticity, a disabling feature of spinal cord injury and stroke, and are successfully implementing novel therapeutic interventions including new drugs and pharmacological blocking agents to treat this disorder.