Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Facilitating Movement for Persons With Disability


Cerebral Palsy

Sruthi Thomas, M.D., Ph.D. , is a pediatric physiatrist and physician scientist who leads the department’s research efforts focused on cerebral palsy (CP). CP is the leading cause of physical disability in children and there is a desperate need for research in this area. There are currently two areas of focus: 1) adult outcomes in cerebral palsy, and 2) the use of neurosurgical interventions for management of severe hypertonicity. Dr. Thomas’ group works closely with the Cerebral Palsy Research Network, a national organization that hosts a CP patient registry with numerous children’s hospitals throughout the United States, including Texas Children’s Hospital, and promotes research in the field. Dr. Thomas was one of the recipients of the department’s inaugural BCM PM&R Pilot Funding Seed Award in 2020. Her ultimate goal is to provide evidence to guide clinical best practices to improve outcomes of importance to her patients with CP.

Exercise Research in People with Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes and Obesity

This area of research is led by Mon Bryant, PT, Ph.D. , who has long-standing interest in exercise intervention.  She is currently a co-investigator on an NIH study to test the effect of lifestyle intervention (exercise and diet) on bone quality in obese older adults (PI-Dennis Villareal, MD), and a VA Merit Review to examine the efficacy of lifestyle therapy and metformin in preventing weight loss-induced reduction in muscle and bone mass in obese older veterans (PI-Dennis Villareal, MD).  Her new R21 collaboration assesses long-term effects of in-home balance training in people with Parkinson’s disease using a smartphone-based wearable balance rehabilitation system (PI- Beom Chan Lee-PhD, University of Houston).

Prosthetic and Orthotic Care and Clinical Innovation

The Prosthetics and Orthotics Center is led by Jared Howell, CPO, MS, FAAOP, and focuses on the development of novel technologies to address prosthetic/orthotic and rehab needs. It is a primary engineering and product development center and seeks to develop new techniques and practices to advance science and clinical practice. Faculty in the center have both clinical and research roles and sit on the front lines of the provision of orthotic and prosthetic care making it an ideal location for late stage clinical trials and product development.  The center and faculty have experience in international research and development of novel clinical options for low- and middle-income countries, 3D printing, and material science.  Faculty collaborate with a number of different departments throughout the college for ongoing research and testing.  

Michael Lee, M.D., M.H.A., C.P.E. has research interests that include management and prevention of secondary conditions in persons with spinal cord injury and in persons with amputation. His current project, "Novel Textile Based Sensors for Inner Prosthetic Socket Environment Monitoring" demonstrates and characterize the novel Flexible InneR-socket Sensing Technology (FIRST) that is seamlessly, unobtrusively, and elegantly integrated into the lower-limb prosthesis socket.  FIRST is based on an electronic-textile fabric structure where the fibers of the fabric act as sensory elements and could simultaneously track tactile forces, moisture/wetness, electromyography (EMG), and body temperature at multiple sensing points around the residual limb.  The multiple sensing capabilities of FIRST I being evaluated in persons with lower limb amputations inside and outside of a laboratory environment. This would enable patients and clinicians to avoid the occurrence of potential skin breakdown and the resulting complications.

Sports Medicine/Regenerative Medicine

The Regenerative Sports Medicine clinical and research mission at BCM is directed by Prathap Jayaram M.D., FAAPMR, CAQ[M4] . The research mission is focused on regenerative rehabilitation strategies to optimize functional recovery in musculoskeletal disability. Recent advances have included developing novel therapies and refining current strategies to combat post-traumatic osteoarthritis which affects individuals with traumatic injuries from our youth athletes to our aging veteran population. The Regenerative Sports Medicine footprint collaborates with Baylor’s world renowned Molecular & Human Genetics department and Department of Orthopedic Surgery. This collaboration has led to discovering targets of disease in pre-clinical models that can have been scaled to clinical trials to improve functional endpoints in patients suffering from musculoskeletal disability.