Our Scientists

 Theresa Louise Bender Pape, Dr.PH, MA, CCC-SLP/L, FACRM
Improving the participation and well-being of individuals with neurological conditions by developing innovative precision neurorehabilitation interventions that are tailored according to each person’s unique condition and patient-identified functional goals.

The Neuroplasticity in Neurorehabilitation (NNR) Research Lab is a collaborative research team founded in 2001 by the Executive Director, Dr. Theresa Bender Pape. Our team is comprised of expert researchers and clinicians of diverse professional backgrounds including neuroscience, psychiatry, speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy from the internationally renowned institutions of Northwestern University, Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital, and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Our flagship research laboratory space is at Edward Hines, Jr. Hospital, but our research studies are also conducted at various other locations throughout the Chicagoland area. One of our most specialized treatment interventions, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), is provided at the Clinical Research Unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Northwestern Center for Translational Imaging (CTI), and Hines VA Hospital.

Please visit our lab website and Dr. Pape’s faculty profile for further information.

The Neuroplasticity in Neurorehabilitation Laboratory welcomes your interest and collaboration. Please connect with our lab by emailing us or connecting on social media to hear the latest lab news and updates: Twitter, Facebook

 Colin K Franz, MD, PhD

Studying traumatic neurological injuries, neuropathy, diaphragm muscle weakness and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

As a PM&R-physician and scientist with sub-specialty certifications in neuromuscular and electrodiagnostic medicine, the focus of Franz’s clinical and research agendas are highly integrated. He studies as well as takes care of patients with traumatic neurological injuries, neuropathy, diaphragm muscle weakness and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Visit the Franz lab website.

 Steven Gard, PhD

Novel and effective methods to enhance community participation, quality of life and access to high-quality services and devices for persons with various types of disabilities.

The purpose of our research program is to develop, evaluate and implement novel and effective methods to enhance community participation, quality of life and access to high-quality services and devices for persons with various types of disabilities, particularly those that use prostheses and orthoses. This is accomplished through science and engineering applications that are creative, rigorously evaluated and clinically relevant in order to improve the functional capabilities and community outcomes of people with disabilities.

Our work is conducted at the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC) for Education & Research is within the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Email Steven Gard, PhD, or visit the NUPOC website for more information.

 Russell T Johnson, PhD

Quantifying the effects of neuromuscular impairments on gait biomechanics to improve balance and mobility in people post-stroke

The aims of Dr. Johnson’s current research program are to determine the effects of neuromuscular impairment on gait performance in people post-stroke. He uses a combination of experimental data and computational modeling approaches to characterize the relationships between post-stroke impairments, such as hemiparesis and abnormal muscle control, and gait parameters such as metabolic cost, gait asymmetry, and whole-body angular momentum.

You can email Dr. Johnson for more information.

 Matthew J. Major, PhD

Quantifying the biomechanics and motor control of prosthesis and orthosis users to advance therapeutic and device interventions for enhanced function.

Matthew J. Major, PhD, studies the application of engineering-based principles to improve the quality of evidence-based clinical practice for rehabilitation of persons with neuromuscular or musculoskeletal insult, and to develop user-centered, optimized assistive device technology to enhance function and quality of life of these patient groups. He is particularly interested in designing interventions to enhance locomotor stability.

His lab uses a combination of bench test equipment to characterize the mechanical function of assistive devices, motion capture technology to assess human performance and fabrication equipment to build device prototypes for evaluation. The laboratory shares space with the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC) and is affiliated with the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The lab has received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation to support its rehabilitation engineering projects in prosthetics and orthotics.

Email Major or visit the Major Lab website for more information.

 Thomas J. Schnitzer, MD, PhD
Focusing on musculoskeletal pain and bone, specifically understanding the basis for pain chronification through brain imaging and psychophysical methodologies. 

The research activities of our group focus on two major clinical areas: musculoskeletal pain and bone. In collaboration with Vania Apkarian, PhD, in the Department of Neuroscience, our pain research focuses on understanding the basis for pain chronification, utilizing brain imaging and psychophysical methodologies. 

Our current NIH-funded studies are evaluating the transition that occurs in individuals who progress from acute to chronic pain and attempting to modulate this by pharmacologic interventions. On a more applied level, the development and characterization of analgesic agents for the management of chronic musculoskeleletal pain has been a major focus for over the past decade.

We have helped design and implement phase 2 studies of many of the major classes of drugs currently in use, including NSAIDs, cox-2 selective inhibitors, opioids, topical analgesic agents and novel approaches to pain including antibodies to NGF (nerve growth factor) and other agents active on the peripheral nervous system.

Additionally, our group has initiated studies aimed at treating patients with acute spinal cord injury to attempt to maintain bone mass during their immediate post-injury period. In those individuals with SCI who have already lost significant bone mass, we have undertaken a second set of studies aimed at evaluating approaches to increase bone mass in these individuals, using physical and pharmacological interventions as well as attempting to assess the interaction between bone and the metabolic status of these individuals.

Visit Schnitzer's faculty profile, go to the Schnitzer Research Group website or email him to learn more.

Clinical Trials

Participate in Research

Treatments developed through our investigators' trials might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices or new ways to use existing treatments. Search our list of ongoing trials to learn more or sign up for our registry to participate in a study.

View all  Participant Registry

Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center

NUPOC supports our faculty through the education and training of professional prosthetists, orthotists, rehabilitation engineers and other rehabilitation professionals; the design and application of prostheses and orthoses; and its work to improve human interactions with prosthetics and orthotics systems. Visit the center's site to learn more about its education and research programs.


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