Research Laboratories

TAALC Lab: Jane Kleinert, Ph.D.; Judy Page, Ph.D. (CSD) and Jacqui Kearns, Ed.D. (Human Development Institute)

We have a SPDG grant which is federal monies allocated to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for personnel development. Our SPDGA is entitled: Teaching Age-appropriate Academic Learning via Communication. The object is to complete training and research on improving communication services to public school age students and persons with severe disabilities. The TAALC projects works in conjunction with the KDE to assist school districts and Special Education Cooperatives across the state to initiate strong intervention programs for communication and AAC use in the schools when needed. We develop materials and on-line training modules for use with teachers and SLPs in Kentucky and nationally. Our current data shows improvement in communication status of students in Kentucky.  From our previous research with the National Alternate Assessment Center (2008-2012) and the National Collaborative States Center (NCSC- 2011-2016) we analyzed an extensive national data set on the communication status of students in Alternate Assessment (students with severe intellectual disabilities) and the AAC needs of such students. We have recently submitted for a grant that would allow us to access the KY data on students in Alternate Assessment and study why historically there is only minimal progress across the grade span in the area of communication skills with these students.  

Capilouto Lab: (in conjunction with UK Children’s Hospital and NFANT Labs, LLC)

Accomplishing coordination of SSB is a complex challenge for any infant; but is especially challenging for immature and neurologically compromised neonates4. We hypothesize that the quantitative measures of sucking performance that we are uniquely able to collect in newborns will identify those infants likely to experience long-term feeding problems, enabling early intervention to be initiated. Quantitative measures are collected using a pediatric medical device that measures and documents sucking parameters critical for safe and efficient liquid swallow.  Analyses of preliminary data (IRB# 15-0052F6A) suggest that our measurements distinguish infants with coordinated SSB patterns from those with poor coordination. Poor SSB coordination leads to slower transit times for moving liquid, increased time to swallow and a concomitant likelihood for airway penetration and/or aspiration as well as feeding-related apnea and bradycardia5. Results from the current pilot study will differentiate, with sensitivity and specificity, those infants at risk for aversive feeding outcomes so that intervention can be initiated early, thereby reducing readmissions and preventing “failure to thrive” long term. We test our hypothesis with three specific aims: (1) Describe the early sucking behavior of healthy term infants. (2) Describe the early sucking behavior in healthy preterm infants from initiation of oral feeding through hospital discharge to post discharge. (3) Assess the relation between early sucking behavior and sucking performance at 4 months uncorrected age.

The EKU-OT Research Center

The EKU-OT Research Center is located within the Occupational Therapy Department, at 107 Dizney Building, on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. Research taking place there can be reviewed through the Department's web page.  The Research Center is used by multiple research teams, who schedule meeting times in the Center, as well as by a variety of research support workers, such as graduate assistants and transcriptionists.  The Center includes four workstations, one of which is a Macintosh video analysis system.  Data analysis software available there also include Hyper Research, Ethnography, and SPSS.  Research meeting support includes video projection from laptops, tea and coffee service, refrigerator, and a selection of local take-out menus.  Secure data storage, methods reference library, conference phone, and audio-recording equipment are also available.  The EKU-OT Research Center serves as the primary research space of the Endowed Chair in Occupational Therapy and is restricted to research use by Department faculty members and doctoral students.

Muscle Mechanics lab (Butterfield lab)

Our laboratory investigates the mechanical and physiological properties of muscle tissue during in-vivo ambulation and exercise using a number of models.  We collect direct, real time measurements of mechanical properties and performance of skeletal muscle during modified use, and measure the cellular responses thereafter.  Although it is known that muscle adapts following various modes of exercise, we continue to investigate interventions to potentiate the beneficial effects of exercise and optimize the cellular response.  The additional contributions of altered muscle function to bone and joint health is of great clinical interest, and we have devised new methodologies to further our understanding of the impact of abnormal muscle function on bone, cartilage, and ligament health during exercise.

Current projects include:

  • Uncovering the mechanisms of massage efficacy in young and aged skeletal muscle
  • Facilitating recovery of muscle function after injury / damage
  • Massage as an intervention to attenuate disuse atrophy
  • Uncovering the role of titin during muscle responses to chronic overload
  • Mechanisms underlying periarticular muscle dysfunction following closed ACL rupture
  • Mechanical properties of laryngeal muscles:  effects of age and exercise on TA muscle architecture and function

Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory

The Musculoskeletal Laboratory (MSL) is approximately 1300 square-feet and is located in the Charles T. Wethington building.  It is a facility dedicated to scholarly research and hands-on instructional education, and also serves the Center for Muscle Biology as a core laboratory. The main lab includes equipment and expertise for 1) Assessment of the sensorimotor system as it relates to musculoskeletal injuries, 2) Assessment of force production and neuromuscular control, and 3) Evaluating the outcomes of interventions with the use of patient self-reported outcomes, functional tests, 3 D kinematic analysis of every day motions, sensorimotor tests such as balance, strength, endurance, power, and muscular recruitment changes. Satellite labs have equipment for both aerobic and resistance exercise intervention studies.  The MSL works intimately with the BioMotion Lab (part of the Human Performance Labs) in the Multi-Disciplinary

Science (MDS) building and the Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) in the Nutter Training Facility.

Laryngeal and Speech Dynamics Laboratory

Directed by Drs. Richard Andreatta and Joseph Stemple, this lab is dedicated to the study of physiological mechanisms underlying the human vocal tract during speech and vocalization.  The lab currently supports many lines of research that together addresses the integrative nature of vocal function and speech production.  Research lines include neuroimaging using fMRI, sensory perception, laryngeal physiology, and basic research in laryngeal muscle biology in animal models.  The lab boasts a comprehensive array of technologies that allow for the recording and analyses of respiratory, phonatory, and neural subsystems during a variety of dynamic and static speech/voice tasks.  The lab is equipped with several stimulus and transducing systems including: (1) a servo-linear motor for mechanically evoked reflex studies of the trigemino-facial pathway, (2) a precision vibrotactile delivery system for somatosensory perceptual and movement-related gating studies, (3) an automated muscle force assessment workstation for analyzing lip, jaw and tongue muscle performance skills in vivo, (4) kinematic transducers for various orofacial motion tracking applications, and (5) state-of-the-art tools for visual imaging of vocal function, acoustic analysis of the voice signal, and aerodynamic assessment of voice production including respiratory and glottal airway measures. A full-size Faraday booth built within the lab space is also available for EMG and evoked response studies. 

Running Injury Laboratory

The Running Injury Laboratory is directed by Dr. Brian Noehren, PhD, PT.  The lab is focused on the biomechanics of common lower extremity injuries and is staffed by the running injury lab group. This research is part of the biodynamics lab, which is centrally located on campus and is adjacent to the medical center. The research is focused on a number of key areas including: a) The understanding and mechanics of how runners become injured. From this research the lab group is actively engaged in testing promising new treatments. b) This group is also interested in how having an ACL reconstruction affects the way patients walk. Previous research suggests that a high percentage of individuals who have had an ACL reconstruction will go onto develop knee osteoarthritis. From this, the lab group hopes to determine some of the factors that may be related to the future development of osteoarthritis. c) In collaboration with Dr. Lattermann, this group is engaged in some very exciting work in the area of patellofemoral osteoarthritis. Current projects include: 

  • Prolonged alterations to muscle following knee surgery and physical therapy
  • High accuracy motion analysis using commodity depth camera for clinical lower extremity research
  • A biopsychosocial approach to define mechanisms of patellofemoral pain 
  • Dynamic whole body control following ACL reconstruction

Human Performance Lab (HPL)

The newly renovated Human Performance Lab (HPL) is housed in the first floor and basement level of the Multidisciplinary Science Building on Rose Street and includes over 3700 square feet of shared space, overseen by the Colleges of Health Sciences and Education. It is co-directed by Dr. Charlotte Peterson (Health Sciences) and Rob Shapiro (Education). It contains equipment capable of assessing physical function, strength, motion, and gait, as well as for exercise training; computers with all software necessary for data collection and analysis are also onsite. The HPL enables investigators of various backgrounds to conduct more extensive and sophisticated 3D motion analysis, exercise interventions, and treatment programs. Current projects include: Peterson Lab funded projects:

  • Role of satellite cells in adult skeletal muscle growth and maintenance (NIH-R01).
  • Novel actions of metformin to augment resistance training adaptations in older adults (NIH-R01).
  • Strength training and arthritis trial (NIH-BIRT).
  • New role for satellite cells in response to muscle ischemia (NIH-BIRT)

Sports Medicine Research Institute

The University of Kentucky Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) is a multidisciplinary research center focused on injury prevention and performance optimization, musculoskeletal health and rehabilitation, metabolism, and neuro-cognition. SMRI is dedicated to excellence in research, community outreach, and collaboration — all leading to one outcome: optimal health.

Focusing on tactical athletes and youth and collegiate-level athletes, SMRI explores ways to minimize injury, optimize performance and maximize career longevity and quality of life. Test models include those specific to risk mitigation, nutrition, fatigue, endocrine health, sleep and stress, battlefield medicine, adaptive technology, concussion, orthopaedic-related injury prevention and rehabilitation interventions, healthy aging, and women’s health.

SMRI will provide outreach opportunities incorporating applicable strategies on injury prevention, human performance, sports nutrition and overall wellness to recreational and competitive youth, high school, collegiate, professional, and senior athletes, coaches, parents, and other health care providers.

Center for Muscle Biology

The mission of the CMB is to 1) catalyze muscle research through pilot funding, 2) strengthen grant applications through provision of state-of-the-art expertise and services, and 3) serve as a hub of multidisciplinary collaboration by enabling students, early-stage and senior investigators with different scientific backgrounds to incorporate muscle structure/function analyses into their research programs. It is widely recognized that aging and chronic diseases are characterized by muscle dysfunction and progressive muscle weakness and wasting. Clinical studies show that loss in muscle strength is often an early and strong predictor of increased mortality, as well as increased disability. Further, disuse due to injury and immobility, such as confinement in the ICU, often result in protracted muscle weakness which negatively impacts quality of life. Thus, our motto: Muscle powers health​

CMB researchers study a variety of muscles (skeletal, cardiac, diaphragm, laryngeal, tongue and extraocular) and the effects of aging, sepsis, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, injury and exercise on muscle function. The ultimate goal of the CMB is to identify and develop therapeutic strategies to combat muscle weakness and wasting, in concert with primary injury and disease prevention/treatment, for improved clinical outcomes, including lower mortality and disability, shorter hospital stays, and increased functional independence and overall quality of life. We strive to translate therapeutic and rehabilitation strategies for muscle weakness and wasting through strong bench to bedside programs. The CMB integrates basic, translational and clinical researchers together with clinicians, including physicians, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, nutritionists and others, which will be facilitated by Center designation. The CMB offers several core services, resources and equipment, including the Human Muscle Bank, Muscle Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Imaging Core (MIMIC), Muscle Function Core and the Human Performance Lab. 

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