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Biomedical Imaging Laboratory

Overview

Our interdisciplinary research laboratory specializes in medical ultrasound and its applications. The research questions of interest involve understanding the interrelationships between soft tissue structure, mechanical properties, dynamics, and vascular physiology, their pathological alterations in different disease conditions of major public health significance, such as chronic pain. Towards this goal, our research group utilizes state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging methods and also develops new imaging methods and instruments to make novel measurements, and applies engineering principles to interpret and understand the underlying mechanisms. Our research has impact in several different fields: rehabilitation medicine, biomechanics, cardiovascular medicine and bioengineering.

The guiding philosophy of our research is a continuous translational research cycle of knowledge creation and discovery to benefit public health: translation of our methods and findings from the bench to bedside diagnostic tests and outcome measures, and new findings at the bedside back to the bench for further improvement. On the one hand, we develop new measurement methods based on diagnostic ultrasound imaging techniques and translate them from laboratory experiments into practical solutions and outcome measures that can be used in a clinical setting. Furthermore, using these techniques in a clinical setting, our research group seeks to develop new insights and make novel observations about human physiology and function, which would be the stimulus for further basic investigations. Therefore, our research spans engineering development, basic science investigations and clinical research.

One major thrust area for our investigations is rehabilitation applications. Conditions such as chronic neck and low back pain affect millions in the US and worldwide, and are associated with billions of dollars in public health expenses. Yet, these conditions are poorly understood and treatment options are limited. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, our research group is investigating the use of ultrasound imaging methods to develop objective methods for identifying myofascial trigger points associated with chronic soft tissue neck pain syndromes, and monitoring the changes in their properties after dry needle therapy. We are also investigating the use of ultrasound imaging as a complementary method for quantifying musculoskeletal kinematics in movement disorders and musculoskeletal injuries.

A second thrust area for our investigations is cardiovascular applications. Recently, our research group has started studying applications of ultrasound imaging for screening and monitoring of traumatic head and neck injury and stroke. We are interested in the dynamics of intracranial and extracranial blood flow in these conditions, and their relationships to the mechanisms of injury or extent and progression of disease, and vulnerability to stroke.