The faculty in the Division of Physical Therapy are active in research, often in collaboration with other departments on campus in keeping with the College of Health Sciences and Professions' emphasis on interdisciplinary practice. Collaborations include faculty in engineering, biomedical sciences, exercise physiology, psychology, and athletic training. Students are encouraged to participate and have opportunities to present their work at national meetings.
Physical Therapy Labs
The Biomaterials Lab is used in the study of tissue properties, tissue adaptations to loading, and structure/function interactions. A fume hood and wet lab areas are used to process tissues for histologic, morphologic, and immunohistochemical investigations.
A Q-Test 10 from MTS Corporation is used to examine the material properties of tissues in compressive and tensile modes. Programs are utilized for viscoelastic material behavior (specifically creep and stress relaxation) as well as load to failure regimes in tension, compression, or bending. A variety of load cells allows for the testing of various size and compositions of structures.
In addition, the lab houses an EMG system for the in vivo collection of muscle signals. Fine wire electrodes are custom-made in the lab.
The Motor Control Lab allows experimenters to measure human motion as well as the forces generated by those motions using state-of-the-art kinematic data collection systems. The lab also has several systems to measure the muscle activity associated with human motion. These systems are used to study how coordinated human movements are planned and executed.
Ultrasound and Muscle Mechanics
In the Ultrasound and Muscle Mechanics Lab, researchers investigate the relationship between muscle architecture and muscle function. Using ultrasound imaging, they determine the change in length of the muscle fascicle, muscle-tendon complex, and tendon during several functional activities. By comparing the interaction between the muscle and tendon during movements in healthy individuals and those with neurological and orthopedic dysfunction, therapists can develop more appropriate exercise rehabilitation programs. In addition, ultrasound imaging is being used to measure movement of the spine and measure articular cartilage thickness of the talus.
Integrative Muscle Physiology
Research in the Integrative Muscle Physiology Lab focuses on identifying the neuromuscular mechanisms that contribute to acute (fatigue) and chronic (aging) impairments in muscular function. The goal is to develop effective and implementable interventions that specifically address these mechanisms to improve physical rehabilitation and wellness strategies for older adults and patients with orthopedic and neurologic disabilities. Researchers use a variety of experimental techniques to examine the biochemical, molecular, physiological and functional properties of muscle and nerve in both human and animal models.
The Gait Lab allows researchers to analyze human gait using an instrumented treadmill and a motion analysis state-of-the-art kinematic data collection system. The current focus of the lab is to analyze the association of 3D running biomechanics with injury and the management of running related injury. The lab is also used for clinical assessment of walking and running to assist our clinicians with diagnosis and treatment plans.