Physical TherapyWestern Health Sciences

Research Facilities

Western's School of Physical Therapy is home to a variety of research labs and facilities that allow students to gain hands-on experience and develop the skill and knowledge necessary to be leaders in the field of therapy and rehabilitation.

Cardiopulmonary Labratory

This laboratory is equipped with two fully computerized systems for the investigation and evaluation of pulmonary and cardiac function both at rest and in response to physiologic stresses.

The pulmonary system permits pulmonary wellness/disability testing, evaluation of treatment efficacy and both respiratory and metabolic assessment during activity and exercise performance. The cardiac system combines stress testing with additional diagnostic ECG capabilities including the ability to perform signal; -averaged (high resolution) electrocardiography.

A major focus of the laboratory is the use of heart rate variability and spectral analysis for the non-invasive investigation of autonomic nervous system control of the cardiovascular system and cardiac electrical activity in humans. Both the cardiac and pulmonary systems may be programmed to execute custom protocols and as such are versatile enough to handle a diverse subject population, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and the disabled to the elite athlete.

Muscular Assessment Labratory

The laboratory is designed to evaluate muscular strength and endurance parameters through use of a Kin-Com computer controlled dynamometer, and to conduct electromyographical analysis of therapeutic exercises/functional activities and basic biomechanical analyses.

Neuromuscular Integration Research Labratory

Gerontology/geriatric rehabilitation and human neuromuscular function. Interests currently include research on muscle and reflex physiology as it pertains to the neural basis or posture and movement. The effects of various musculoskeletal and neurological conditions (pertaining are a focus of the laboratory).

Pediatric Functional Motor Ability

The broad aims of research activities conducted through this facility are:

  1. to test assumptions underlying motor development theories
  2. to identify both risk and resiliency factors for motor outcomes among infants and young children at-risk for or diagnosed with motor disabilities
  3. to determine effectiveness of preventative and rehabilitation strategies for these children

A variety of neuromotor, fine and gross motor, functional, and anthropometric measurement tools are available to study these special populations.

Motor Control Labratory

The focus of this laboratory is to investigate the changes in neuromuscular performance under conditions of health, disease, and fatigue. Three major areas of interests are:

  1. the behavior of single motor units during muscular activity
  2. the analysis of postural control
  3. the development of a valid theoretical base for physiotherapeutic interventions

Wound Healing Labratory

Physiological mechanism underlying effects of electrophysical agents used in clinical practice, histological, immunocytochemical computerized image analysis of soft tissue healing in appropriate in vitro, in vivo, and clinical experimental models.

Clinical Exercise Physiology Assessment Labratory

Efficacy of cardiopulmonary physical therapy techniques; optimizing outcomes for hip fracture patients; physiological stress of isokinetic exercise.

Wolf Orthopaedic Biomechanics Labratory

Located in the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, the lab houses state-of-the-art motion analysis equipment used to assess patients with various musculoskeletal disorders. Co-Directors of this multidisciplinary lab are Trevor Birmingham (Physical Therapy), Robert Giffin (Orthopaedic Surgery), and Thomas Jenkyn (Mechanical Engineering).

Pain and Quality of Life Integrational Research Lab

Integrated research is about understanding that complex systems are greater than the sum of their parts. Pain and suffering are highly personal experiences that are influenced by biology, psychology and the social context. Members of the 'PIRL' are skilled in exploring the complex interactions between different systems using advanced measurement and statistical modeling techniques. While experimental lab-based techniques are used when needed for foundational work, the focus of PIRL research is on translational clinical research.

Physical Function and Aging Labratory

Assessment of resistance exercise intervention on age-related changes in functional mobility; Investigation into muscle strength for postural control in older adults.