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Ongoing Research Projects

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Understanding Mechanisms of Chronic Neck Pain

Myofascial pain syndrome is a common non-articular disorder of the musculoskeletal system that affects roughly 9 million people in the US. In collaboration with researchers at the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at NIH and the Center for the Study of Chronic Illness and Disability at GMU, we are developing new methods for studying the pathophysiology of myofascial pain.

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Dynamic Measurement of Musculoskeletal Kinematics

Ultrasound imaging can provide complementary information by directly measuring muscle and tendon kinematics. We are developing new ultrasound methods to quantify the contraction velocities, strain and strain rate and viscoelastic tissue properties of muscles and tendons in collaborations with the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at NIH and faculty in sports medicine and kinesiology at Mason

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Understanding Vulnerable Carotid Plaque and Cognitive Function

Carotid artery plaques are known to cause stroke. Cognitive impairment is an insidious but poorly understood problem in patients with carotid plaques. In this study, we are uncovering the extent of cognitive impairment in veterans with carotid stenosis who are currently labeled "asymptomatic". We are using sophisticated 3D imaging techniques developed by our group to measure the structure and composition of plaques, number of particles breaking off from them, blood levels of chemicals that could disrupt them, and blood flow restriction to the brain from them. This will help identify patients at risk for cognitive impairment who may benefit from preventative measures and improve selection of patients to decrease unnecessary surgical procedures.

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Imaging Cerebrovascular Dynamics in Blunt Head and Neck Trauma

Blunt trauma is the leading cause of death in the US under age 45. Undetected blunt cervical vascular injury (BCVI) can lead to adverse neurological sequelae in this relatively young population. We are investigating bedside use of transcranial Doppler (TCD) during initial assessment and evaluation of BCVI in trauma patients. The goal of this study is to quantify cervical and cerebrovascular hemodynamic alterations in response to BCVI, and to explore viability of TCD as a rapid screening and bedside monitoring tool.