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 quantitative measures of sucking performance will: (1) identify those infants likely to experience long-term feeding problems so early intervention can be initiated; (2) establish a much needed evidence base for common feeding interventions targeted at these populations; (3) serve as a method for answering research questions of interest involving neonatal feeding; and, (4) reduce the length of stay for preterm and sick term infants by increasing continuity of care.   Quantitative measures are collected using an FDA cleared pediatric medical device that provides real time feedback during actual liquid intake and uses custom algorithms to deliver measures of sucking performance critical to safe and efficient liquid swallow.  Results of our most recent cohort study involving preterm and full term infants published in Early Human Development suggests that the rate of nutritive sucking predicts feeding-related length of stay in preterm infants while the degree of suck smoothness predicts feeding-related length of stay in full term infants. Our unique methods also demonstrate that quantitative measures of nutritive sucking identify sucking characteristics impacted by preterm birth. Ongoing research projects include investigating a tongue muscle resistance exercise protocol for increasing sucking amplitude (tongue force) in children with congenital heart disease, use of real time feedback of sucking performance on reducing length of stay in micropremies, and correlating advanced imaging technology with quantitative measures of sucking performance to predict neonatal brain injury.

The Occupational Therapy Research Center at Eastern Kentucky University

The Occupational Therapy Research Center is located within the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, at 107 Dizney Building, on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. Research taking place there can be reviewed through the Department's web page: https://ot.eku.edu/ot-research-center.  The Research Center is restricted to research use by faculty members, doctoral students, and research support workers, such as graduate assistants.  The Research Center is capable of supporting online presentations and meetings, through state of the art audio, video, and networking infrastructure including an 80 inch television, echo-cancelling microphone, camera, amplifier, and wall speakers. Because most of the occupational therapy faculty conduct research at community settings, the Research Center houses supports including research methods reference books, journals, and locked storage for research files and equipment.

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

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

Sports Medicine Research Institute

The UK Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) is a state-of-the-art research center with the mission to conduct interdisciplinary research to optimize the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and performance. The SMRI has a vision to be a leader in sports medicine research that empowers people to achieve long-term health and wellness. Initially created from a collaboration that includes the College of Health Sciences, UK HealthCare, UK Athletics, and the College of Medicine, the SMRI is focused on research, outreach, and service within four specific initiatives: Active Duty/Veterans, Athletics, Active Women’s Health, and Jockey and Equestrian.

The SMRI believes in instilling, cultivating, and fostering an altruistic, mentor-based culture to benefit and develop students and faculty to be future thought-leaders in their professions. SMRI provides applied research opportunities and experiences for students both internal and external to the University at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. SMRI is aligned with the CHS Rehabilitation Sciences Doctoral Program and provides opportunities for research training by providing student funding through graduate research assistantships and mentoring of PhD students. Research experiences are also provided for students enrolled in the CHS Undergraduate Research Certificate program.

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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