The Department is very proud to be ranked 1st in NIH funding to physical medicine and rehabilitation programs by well over $1M annually (2020, The Blue Ridge Mountain Institute). Our investigations follow the guidelines set by the NIH Roadmap: medical research should be designed to deepen our understanding of biology, stimulate interdisciplinary research teams, and reshape clinical research to accelerate medical discovery and improve people’s health.

The Department is at the forefront of national rehabilitation trends in both basic and clinical research.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Neuroprosthetics
  • Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
  • Assistive Technology
  • Musculoskeletal Regeneration
  • Cognitive Studies
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Spinal Cord Regeneration

A number of basic laboratory investigations have led to clinical investigations including:

  • Development of advanced biomimetic upper limb prosthetics
  • Electrical stimulation used to enhance regenerative capabilities in aged muscle
  • Neuroprosthetics and sensorimotor functions
  • Brain-computer interface studies to restore hand function
  • Ultrasound used to determine rotator cuff changes associated with wheelchair propulsion

Spinal Cord Injury

Faculty research in SCI includes neurorehabilitation and development of assistive technologies and mobile health applications. Drs. Boninger and Worobey are directors with the UPMC Model System Center for Spinal Cord Injury, which has been funded by NIDILRR for over 20 years.

Brain Injury

Our brain injury research includes animal models of injury as well as human subject research in a patient population. Faculty members conduct their research at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research at the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center in Lawrenceville. 

Musculoskeletal and Sports

Our MSK research includes precision medicine approaches to spine health and regenerative medicine innovations. Our faculty in sports medicine are interested in sports equity and adaptive sports participation.


Our multidisciplinary pediatrics team includes research in rehabilitation, neuropsychology, and critical care.