The World's First and Only AbilityLab - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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AbilityLab

RIC has more researchers on staff than any other rehabilitation provider.

“By the time studies appear in the literature, the information is no longer current.

Here, through our day-to-day interactions with researchers, we have the opportunity to start implementing findings immediately after they are proven beneficial.”
– Nicole Williams, Physical Therapist

The World's First and Only AbilityLab™

RIC's new Ability Lab

The Ability Institute’s AbilityLabs™ will be RIC’s big experiment on the world stage — the centerpiece of our revolutionary translational model which will change forever how patients participate in and benefit from rehabilitation. There will simply be no more visible place in the Institute. The eyes of the world will be upon us.

The AbilityLabs™ will be where cures happen. They will be the powerful draw for patients to cross oceans and surmount hardship. They represent RIC’s big bet — investing in the world’s best medical, clinical and research talent, as well as in designing and creating a hub where patients will guide teams of physicians and scientists in real time during therapy to solve their problems and amplify their level of function or “ability.” No more years and years between science and trial, or between genius and recovery. No more therapy gyms!

The AbilityLab™ will be the Institute’s gem — and what others will not be able to copy. This gem is what would bear your name and showcase your prescience and generosity. Far from the standard concept of a “lab,” each AbilityLab™ will be stunning to look at and work in, and even more stunning for its state-of-the art technology and equipment. With floor-to-ceiling glass walls that showcase Chicago’s beautiful Lake Michigan, the AbilityLabs™ will follow in the great Chicago tradition of creating awe-inspiring architecture as art. Just being in the space will be an experience second only to what will be happening in it . . . and what will be happening because of it.

The Institute will feature five AbilityLabs™, each with a different function or focus of ability — Think & Speak, Arms & Hands, Legs & Walking, Strength & Endurance, Pediatrics, and Cancer (for cancer patients who have lost ability due to aggressive treatment or to the cancer itself).

The AbilityLab™ for Arms & Hands

Serving More Patients and Advancing Patient Ability

Located on floors 23-24 of The Ability Institute, the AbilityLab™ for Arms & Hands is designed for patients who would benefit from a stimulating and robust environment in pursuit of complex hand skills. This AbilityLab™ will link two stories that are connected by a central, therapeutic staircase. The AbilityLab™ for Arms & Hands will care for patients with diagnoses affecting the brain and higher levels of the spinal cord. 

The AbilityLab™ for Legs & Walking

Located on Floors 21-22, the main focus the AbilityLab™ for Legs & Walking will be on body-weight support and large motor and rhythmic limb functions that are influenced by both spinal cord and brain circuits. In this AbilityLab™, therapeutic intervention will make use of anti-gravity support and weight-bearing assistive devices. The focus of intervention will be on trunk and pelvis stability, positioning and control of the hips, knees and ankles, as well as stepping and propulsion.

RIC rehabilitation patients walk more!

In the AbilityLab™ for Legs & Walking, use of robots, various smart devices, electrical stimulation and emerging technologies will be extensive. We will pursue new therapies, such as the application of biological materials and pharmacological and other therapies specific to neural action — which together promise the most exciting and hopeful advances available to enhance locomotion, gait and walking. 

The AbilityLab™ for Strength & Endurance

Located on floors 19-20 of the Ability Institute, the Strength & Endurance AbilityLab™ will focus primarily on the integration and processes related to how nerves and muscles function individually, as well as on how they interact with the skeletal system according to the neural signals coming from the brain and spinal cord. Applied disciplines provide the foundation for the structural, kinematic and dynamic evaluation of how patients move. The Strength & Endurance AbilityLab™ will have a strong biological, neural engineering, and physiotherapeutic basis. Clinical trials and human-subject research will focus on the facilitation of patients’ neurologic, muscle, bone and joint repair and recovery. 


Current Research Projects Underway
InpatientOutpatient
  • Constraint Induced Language Therapy for Inpatients With Aphasia
    Brown Fellowship
    Julie Carpenter, MA, CCC-SLP
    Leora Cherney, PhD, BC-ANCDS, CCC-SLP
  • Enriched Environment to Improve Outcomes in Patients with Stroke
    HBB Project
    T. George Hornby, PT, PhD and Locomotor Recovery Laboratory
    Jennifer Smith, MA, CCC-SLP and 9th floor Physical Therapy team
    Nicole Sedam, MS, OTR/L and 8th floor Physical Therapy team
  • Evaluating FT-WREX to Improve Functional Outcomes During UE Therapy
    Richard Harvey, MD
    Meghan Buell, OTR/L
  • The Feasibility of High Repetition, Task Oriented Training in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Setting
    Buchanan Fellowship
    Kim Waddell, MS, OTR/L
    George Hornby, PT, PhD
  • In-Bed Robotic Rehabilitation in Acute Stroke
    Li-Qun Zhang, PhD
  • The Role of Uncertainty in Human Motor Learning and Adaptation (Parkinson’s)
    Konrad Kording, PhD
  • Intensive Gait Training to Improve Community Ambulation After Stroke
    Locomotion Lab
    T. George Hornby, PhD, PT
  • Mechanisms Underlying Locomotor Recovery After Step Training in Spinal Cord Injury
    Maria Knikou, PhD, PT
    CK Mummidisetty, MS
  • Pharmacological-Robotic Interventions to Promote Functional Recovery in SCI
    Mehdi Mirbagheri, PhD