• Research

    As one of the largest pediatric therapy programs in the nation, we contribute to evidence-based practice initiatives and professional practice research agendas. We share the vision of Cincinnati Children’s overall mission: to be the leader in improving child health and to transform care through research, education and innovation.   Within the Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation (OT / PT / TR), our vision is to be the scientific leader in the development of transformative strategies and interventions for children which promote participation, active lifestyles and improve quality of life.

    Our research initiatives are focused on pediatric and adolescent patients in the areas of:

    • Neurodevelopmental PT
    • Neurodevelopmental OT
    • Orthopaedic and sports related conditions

    We aim to support and advance the research program with the goal of improving the outcome of children who seek services not only here at Cincinnati Children's, but around the world.  Our research efforts have been recognized and funded by national agencies such as the:

    • National Institute of Health (NIH)
    • American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
    • Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
    • National Football League (NFL) Charities

    Our staff includes PhD-prepared clinical scientists whose expertise spans physical therapy, occupational therapy, and biomedical engineering. Externally, we strive to publish and present our findings regionally, nationally and internationally.  Internally, the division has developed mechanisms for dissemination of findings within our large OT / PT / TR staff to ensure the delivery of consistent, evidence-based care from all of our providers.  The Division of OT / PT and TR is working diligently to improve the quality of research produced in the therapeutic environment and to enhance the scientific rigor of therapeutic practice.

  • PT research programming has responded to the demand for evidence based practice by strategically growing the scientific arm of clinical practice.  Over the last 5 years, junior faculty has demonstrated early success in terms of grant awards, publication, and presentation. 

    Current research focuses on four thematic areas.  These include:

    1.         Cerebral Palsy Intervention

    2.         Self-Management in Chronic Care Populations

    3.         Quantitative Biomechanics

    Additionally, research in health service utilization has become a dedicated area of work, spanning all thematic areas.  Physical therapy research in the neurodevelopmental area emphasizes optimized care delivery.  We embrace a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving.  Collaborative relationships are now in place in several departments within the hospital and community including:

    • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    • Orthopaedics
    • Neurosurgery
    • Physical Therapy departments at two local universities (University of Cincinnati and College of Mount Saint Joseph).  

    OT research at Cincinnati Children's has a strong focus on clinical research designed to generate new knowledge and provide evidence based interventions in order to deliver superior care to the patients and families we serve.  The occupational therapy research team collaborates with a variety of disciplines throughout Cincinnati Children's including:

    • Ophthalmology
    • Neurology
    • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    • Cardiology
    • Physical Therapy

    In addition, we have established research projects with outside universities. Our research efforts have a focus on assessment, intervention efficacy and dosing.

    Our assessment studies include:

    • Cortical Visual Impairment assessment
    • Utilizing an upper extremity motion analysis protocol as a tool to measure improvement in quality of movement following an intensive intervention protocol

    Our current and future efficacy studies focus on:

    • Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) and sensorimotor brain mapping
    • CIMT group therapy compared to individual therapy
    • Hippotherapy to improve participation in activities of daily living
    • SPIDER program on improving participation in daily activities
    • Transcranial Magnet Stimulation to improve upper extremity motor function in children with cerebral palsy
    • Motor interventions to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with congenital heart disease
    • The impact of implementing self-management on therapist, parent and patient outcomes

    Our dosing studies focus on our specialized programs including:

    • CIMT
    • Armeo®
    • Intensive strengthening protocols

    The Motion Analysis Lab (MAL) is housed within the Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.

    The lab includes:

    • A 30-foot walkway for assessment of both seating and ambulatory tasks
    • Additional testing spaces designated for analysis of strength and energy consumption
    • A separate large exam room for patient evaluations and private consultations with families

    The equipment available within the Motion Analysis Lab for biomechanical assessment includes:

    • Cardiopulmonary Testing System (Cosmed srl; Rome, Italy)
    • Biodex RTM600 Treadmill (Biodex Medical Systems; Shirley, NY)

    In addition, a suite of Windows-based workstations are available for data collection and analysis.

    The MAL is directed by Jason Long, Ph.D. Dr. Long has an extensive background in motion analysis and biomechanics and has published a number of peer-reviewed articles in the field. Additional staff includes physical therapists trained in motion analysis techniques, as well as a biomedical engineer.

    The MAL serves dual clinical and research purposes. In its clinical capacity, the MAL provides quantitative motor biomechanics data for use in patient evaluation and treatment planning. Typical studies include analyses of gait and balance, strength, and energy consumption. Key research areas within the MAL are based around three primary tenets:

    • Quantifying the biomechanical abnormalities inherent in orthopaedic and neuromuscular pathologies, and measuring change due to treatment of the pathology.
    • Determining the relationships between underlying functional parameters (e.g. balance, strength, range of motion) and the outcome of a particular method of treatment.
    • Assessing the impact of external support in patients requiring assistive devices (e.g. walkers, canes) or other modifications (e.g. AFOs, night splinting, footwear alterations).

    We have found that a combination of data acquisition technology (3D motion analysis, pedobarography, EMG, etc.), higher level modeling (inverse dynamics, musculoskeletal models), and biostatistical analysis is required to best understand the complex relationships between a patient’s underlying impairment and his/her functional and ambulatory abilities. To this end, we seek to establish a laboratory environment in which staff and trainees are familiar with each of these areas, with routine feedback from clinicians regarding the applications of lab-based findings. 

    Orthopaedic and Sports PT research is focused on developing new and innovative assessment and intervention methods to improve the outcomes of the patients we serve.  We partner with the Divisions of Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery to investigate the outcomes of the patients we serve with the goal to improve the quality of care and the ultimate outcome of all of our patients.  Here are a few of our projects currently underway:

    • Outcomes after Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction
    • Optimizing Patient Reported Outcome instruments for use in a pediatric population
    • Outcomes in patients with tibial stress fractures
    • Optimizing balance and postural sway assessments in patients after suffering a cerebral concussion
    • Injury Prevention training in young dancers
    • Optimizing management of young patients with Osteochondritis Dissecans of the knee (a collaborative, multi-site effort with 13 pediatric institutions around the world)
  • We share the vision of Cincinnati Children’s overall mission: to be the leader in improving child health and to transform care through research, education and innovation.

    We want to be the leader in improving child health.

  • Meet the Team

    Learn more about the faculty and staff who comprise the Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, including contact information.

    Read more
  • Research Initiatives

    OT / PT / TR staff members were actively involved in research initiatives in FY 2015.

    Research Participation:

    • 63 staff members involved in IRB approved research studies
    • 25 staff members listed as PI on an IRB approved research study
    • 15 staff members published an article in a peer reviewed publication

    OT / PT / TR Staff Presentations:

    • Over 150 professional presentations!!
      • International: 33
      • National: 84
      • Regional: 17
      • Local: 18

    Grant Funding Sources:

    • NIH
    • Ohio Physical Therapy Association
    • APTA Section on Pediatrics
    • Pedal with Pete Foundation
    • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Internal Grants (PS2, Quality Scholars, Place Outcome Research Award)

    OT / PT / TR Publications:
    Download a list of recent publications (PDF)