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Pediatric Research Studies

Our studies are focused on four main priorities:

  1. We are seeking ways to improve the effectiveness of our activity-based therapies such that the therapy has an impact on the population of children with severe and mild disabilities.
  2. As much of the scientific work has been conducted in adults, we are now developing our equipment for training and testing to meet the specific needs of children.
  3. We want to understand the impact of new rehabilitative strategies on areas of particular concern for children with spinal cord injuries prior to age 12, for instance, respiration and cough to prevent pneumonia; spine growth and trunk muscle activation to prevent scoliosis; development of trunk control for sitting, standing, and walking; and bone development to prevent hip dislocation.
  4. Fourth, we lack good measures to assess recovery in children, in particular, and thus are developing new ways to assess both recovery and development in children who have suffered insult to their neurological systems.

Ongoing Studies


The Scientific Foundation: Building Evidence for Activity-based Therapies for Children with Paralysis

 The goal of this project is to advance the understanding of the mechanisms and outcomes associated with activity-based therapies for children affected by paralysis and promote its dissemination to scientific and pediatric rehabilitation communities. Our aims are to 1) conduct proof-of-principle studies, 2) develop pediatric-specific measurement tools, and 3) conduct critical studies examining mechanisms and outcomes of recovery via activity-based therapy.

Funding: Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (2015-2018) 


Power Kids: A Neuromuscular Training System Specifically Designed To Promote Recovery in Children with Paralysis

The goal of this project is to develop a prototype for a Pediatric Neuromuscular Training system that can move to commercialization. 

Funding: Coulter Translational Research Award (2015-2018) 


Advancing a New Trajectory of Outcomes for Children with Paralysis through Activity-based Rehabilitation

The overall goal of this study is to change dramatically the course of outcomes for children affected by paralysis and their families by augmenting and accelerating research and rehabilitation programs. Three specific aims include: 1) development of a research training system (Fig. 11), 2) development of a long-term database for outcomes, healthcare utilization and quality of life, and 3) assessment of varied sensory inputs (e.g., cold, texture) to augment current therapy.

Funding: Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (2014-2017)


Crawford Kids

Todd Crawford Foundation provides financial support for families so that their child can participate in annual follow-up evaluations and research sessions.

Funding: Todd Crawford Foundation (2014-ongoing)


Respiratory and Trunk Control in Children with Spinal Cord Injury

The goal of this project is to 1) assess the impact of SCI on respiratory and trunk control in children after SCI and 2) identify the relationship between the two abilities that use common muscles for function.

Funding: Kosair for Kids (in-part)


Segmental Assessment of Trunk Control (SATCo) in Children with Spinal Cord Injury

The goal of this study is to assess whether the SATCo captures differences in trunk control among children with SCI and is responsive to change associated with therapeutic interventions. This tool has been validated in developing infants and children with cerebral palsy.  Our aim is to examine and potentially extend its utility to children with spinal cord injury.

Funding: Kosair for Kids and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network


Cardiovascular Performance in Children after Spinal Cord Injury and Activity-based Therapy

Similar to adults, our knowledge of the impact of SCI on cardiovascular (CV) function is limited for the pediatric population. In the adult population with chronic SCI, morbidity and mortality from disease now exceeds that caused by renal and pulmonary conditions seen in previous decades. With CV dysfunction due to SCI and the ensuing sedentary lifestyle, many changes contribute to early onset of coronary disease for adults after SCI. For those injured as children the consequences are unknown. This study will examine CV function in children after SCI and as a result of activity-based therapy.

Funding: Kosair Charities and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust


Exploring Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) as an Activity-based Therapy in the Pediatric Population Post-SCI

The purpose of this work is to explore the feasibility and safety of NMES in the pediatric population. Use of NMES is in line with provision of augmented sensory input to the spinal cord to generate a motor output as a therapeutic intervention to activate the neuromuscular system below the lesion.

Funding: Kosair Charities


Primary Researchers

Dr. Andrea Behrman
Andrea Behrman, PhD, PT, FAPTA
Laura Argetsinger, DPT
MacKenzie Roberts, DPT
Project Coordinator: Lisa Clayton


The Kosair for Kids Center for
Pediatric NeuroRecovery

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