Spotlight on Spaulding Science
News from Spaulding Research Institute
April 2022
All Hands on Tech

Spaulding and Mass General Hospital researcher Sabrina Paganoni, M.D., Ph.D., is part of the “BrainGate + SoftRobotics” team, which recently won the first Cullen Education and Research Fund (CERF) Medical Engineering Prize for ALS Research. This multi-institutional collaboration is creating a series of technologies intended to improve arm and hand function in people with muscle weakness and paralysis, including those with the neurodegenerative disease ALS, Dr. Paganoni’s specialty.
CERF, a private philanthropy based in London, also awarded its Medical Electronics Prize to PathMaker Neurosystems, Inc., an emerging neuromodulation company that is partnering with Dr. Paganoni and Spaulding’s Leon Morales-Quezada, M.D., Ph.D., to advance their novel hyperexcitability suppression technology into clinical application for ALS patients. This non-invasive, non-pharmacological approach curbs overactive motor nerve cells and shows promise in pre-clinical studies for treating some of ALS’s debilitating symptoms.
Dr. Morales-Quezada is also collaborating with PathMaker on a recently launched multi-center clinical trial to test this new technology as a potential treatment of lower-limb spasticity following a stroke, which can impair walking and other activities of daily living. The initial trial received a $4.9 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and will enroll participants at Spaulding.
Promising Pathway

A team from Spaulding recently shared its experience with designing and implementing a multidisciplinary clinical rehabilitation pathway for patients with acute-onset motor functional neurological disorder (FND)—described by first author Ginger Polich, M.D., in the premier journal NeuroRehabilitation. At the interface between neurology and psychiatry, FND is a baffling medical condition that is caused by a problem with the functioning of the nervous system (how the brain and body send and receive signals) rather than a structural problem (physical damage to the brain or neural pathways), which underlies disorders like multiple sclerosis or stroke. FND can encompass a wide variety of symptoms, including limb weakness, spasms, gait issues, and motor problems, which can be a major source of disability and distress. Approximately 18 percent of patients presenting with new acute-onset FND symptoms remain too functionally impaired to safely return home by the time of their inpatient hospital discharge and require inpatient rehabilitation at a facility such as Spaulding. Currently no formal guidelines exist on how to deliver optimal inpatient care to those with FND. The team hopes their novel approach will provide a roadmap for other institutions and encourage broader development of practice recommendations for supporting this often-marginalized patient population. Learn more in Spaulding’s press release.
Outcomes Insights

Measuring patient outcomes is essential in defining and refining care needs and in maximizing the value and efficacy of interventions. With the increased demand for more effective ways to evaluate and implement medical care from consumers, policy makers, and insurers alike, Spaulding has launched a new cross-disciplinary academic center to act as a hub for outcomes research, education, clinical application, and advocacy in rehabilitation. The Rehabilitation Outcomes Center at Spaulding (ROCS) will promote evidence-based use of outcomes measures along every step of the rehabilitation journey, with the mission of delivering the right treatments, at the right time, to the right people.
“By building bridges among our patients, clinicians, educators, and research faculty at this new center, we can generate research that directly informs our ability to deliver data-driven, systematic rehabilitation care,” says Jeffrey Schneider, M.D., Co-Director of ROCS with Joseph Giacino, Ph.D., who adds: “In this way, we can create a meaningful picture of the patients we serve and produce the results that matter most to our community.” Other center leadership includes Lewis Kazis, Sc.D., Director of Research; Mary Slavin, P.T., Ph.D., Director of Dissemination; and Shonali Gaudino, O.T., B.C.G., Administrative Director.
ROCS was established with a generous seed gift from Karen Maloney and Bob Carpenter, who recognized the importance of launching this effort at Spaulding. “Rehabilitation care is still largely a one-size fits all proposition, but outcomes science shows the promise of changing that paradigm to make care more personalized, effective, and equitable,” says Carpenter. “We were privileged to help Spaulding’s amazing team of researchers get this important initiative off the ground.” The couple made their gift in memory of Maloney’s late mother, Kathryn “Kay” Maloney, who was treated by Dr. Schneider at Spaulding over many years. “This was a special and impactful way to honor my mom’s legacy, express our gratitude for Dr. Schneider’s compassionate care, and advance Spaulding’s great work,” says Maloney.
Spotlight Shorts
Top Docs

Spaulding’s talented doctors were once again recognized in Boston magazine’s 2022 “Top Docs” issue—a collaboration with the healthcare research company Castle Connolly that showcases the finest physicians in the area, as chosen by their peers. Fifteen Spaulding doctors were listed in this annual special issue.
A Win for Women

Spaulding’s Julie Silver, M.D., was recognized by the American Medical Women’s Association as the 2022 Winner of AMWA’s Elizabeth Blackwell Award. Created as a lasting tribute to the first woman to receive an M.D. degree from an American medical school, the award is granted to a female physician who has made outstanding contributions to the cause of women in the field of medicine.
Physical Education

Spaulding’s Exercise for Persons with Disabilities and Adaptive Sports Centers were just a couple of our fabulous programs highlighted in a recent Sports Spotlight Series segment on NESN. Did you know that these two leading-edge clinical initiatives also have robust research components to study, validate, and enhance the multitude of benefits that come with promoting physical activity for people of all abilities? Watch the full episode here.
Giving Back

People have found creative ways to give back to Spaulding over the last few months, from a “disc drive” to honor the memory of a former patient, to a sibling sock campaign supporting the Race for Rehab Marathon Team, to a teen-driven “Smiles through Stories” project for pediatrics. Looking for a way to support Spaulding’s life-changing work too? Visit our web site here to learn more.
Want to hear the latest on Spaulding’s research
from the experts on the ground?

Join us virtually for our annual
Dr. J. Robert Shaughnessy PM&R Research & Education Day
Friday, June 3, 2022, 7:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m., via Zoom
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