Research Programs

CLEAR Center Research Mentorship, Support, and Funding

The CLEAR Center supports and mentors early-stage investigators in developing research skills and project portfolios. The CLEAR Center team strives to prepare the next generation of musculoskeletal researchers by providing access to mentorship, datasets, analyst support, and research project funding support.

The CLEAR Center’s Pilot & Feasibility Award Program is meant to foster early-stage investigators interested in musculoskeletal research. Investigators can receive up to $20,000 (direct costs) over one year for faculty/staff effort and/or the purchase of services and supplies. Information on the application process for the Pilot & Feasibility Award Program can be found here

Current CLEAR Center-Supported Projects and Investigators

Aaron Bunnell, MD

Aaron Bunnell, MD

CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awardee 2019
Project Title: Surface Electromyography in Recovery and Rehabilitation of Upper Extremity Function
Current Status: In Progress

Project Description

Dr. Aaron Bunnell is an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and one of two recipients of the 2019-2020 CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awards.

Dr. Bunnell’s Pilot & Feasibility Award project will first optimize the function of a portable surface electromyography (sEMG) device to monitor improvements in upper extremity function and then develop a virtual gaming platform for rehabilitation of upper extremity function, using sEMG signals as the input.

Upper extremity weakness can be debilitating, often interfering with patients’ ability to work and perform basic activities. Causes for upper extremity weakness vary widely but can include atrophy from disuse, stroke, or trauma. After treating underlying causes of upper extremity weakness, recovery of strength and function is highly dependent on completion of prescribed therapy. However, rates of completion of therapy regimes remain low, as home exercises are often repetitive and boring, and access to specialized therapists is limited.

Virtual reality- and gaming-based therapies are gaining popularity in treatment of conditions like upper extremity weakness, but not all patients are able to use them, as some patients are too weak to trigger traditional virtual reality systems to complete the therapy program. Surface electromyography (sEMG) may offer a solution to this issue, as low levels of muscle activation can be detected, allowing more patients the opportunity to benefit from virtual reality therapies.

Jonah Hebert-Davies, MD

Jonah Hebert-Davies, MD

CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awardee 2019
Project Title: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Early Glenohumeral Cortisone Injection in Patients with Shoulder Stiffness Following Proximal Humerus Fractures
Current Status: In Progress

Project Description

Dr. Jonah Hebert-Davies is an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and one of two recipients of the 2019-2020 CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awards.

Dr. Hebert-Davies’ Pilot & Feasibility Award project will determine the feasibility of performing a large-scale trial to address post traumatic decreased range of motion in patients with proximal humerus fractures.

Shoulder stiffness is a common complication of proxmial humerus fractures and has the potential to seriously impact daily function. Standard treatment includes physical therapy, home exercise, and “watchful waiting” to see if symptoms improve with time. In this study, Dr. Hebert-Davies and his team will examine whether or not steroid injections are a viable treatment option for this type of injury. This study will conduct pilot work to determine the feasibility of conducting a large scale multi-centered randomized trial to evaluate the viability of steroid injections as a treatment option for shoulder stiffness following proximal humerus fracture.

Patients participating in this study will be randomized to receive an ultrasound-guided intra-articular injection with lidocaine or an ultrasound-guided intra-articular cortisone injection. The team will examine clinical and functional outcomes at multiple timepoints to determine the feasibility of studying this treatment on a larger scale.

Michael O'Reilly, MBBCh

Michael O'Reilly, MBBCh

CLEAR Center Senior Fellow
2019-2020

Description of Work

 

Dr. Michael O’Reilly is a Senior Neuroradiology Fellow in the University of Washington Department of Radiology. Currently in the second year of his fellowship, he is working closely with CLEAR Center Medical Director Dr. Jerry Jarvik on work exploring the current national use of vertebral augmentation, a minimally invasive procedure that has been used in the treatment of osteoporotic vertebral fractures. 

 

James Andrews, MD

James Andrews, MD

CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awardee 2018
Project Title: Identifying Aging-related Sarcopenia as a Novel Risk Factor for the Development of Osteoarthritis in Older Adults – a Population-Based Approach
Current Status: Complete

Project Description

Dr. James Andrews is an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Medicine Division of Rheumatology and was one of two recipients of the inaugural CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awards.

Dr. Andrews’ Pilot & Feasibility Award project leveraged the NIH/NIA-funded Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) dataset to identify novel risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis among older adults, such as sarcopenia (low lean mass and grip strength) and serum biomarkers. Dr. Andrews and his team explored the relationship between sarcopenia and osteoarthritis, as well as examined the potential for sarcopenia to predict development of osteoarthritis in the future. Understanding the relationship between sarcopenia and development of osteoarthritis in older adults will pave the way for identification of patients at greatest risk for osteoarthritis and provide novel data on how osteoarthritis is developed that will ultimately promote interventional studies designed to prevent osteoarthritis and reduce disability for millions of at risk older Americans.

 

Additional Funding Received

  • Sarcopenia as a Predictor of Functional Outcomes of Acute Illness in Older Adults with Dementia
    National Institute on Aging
    1R03AG063168-01
    4/15/2019 – 1/31/2021
  • Sarcopenia as a Predictor of Hospital-Associated Disability in Older Adults
    National Institute on Aging
    5K23AG058756-02
    8/15/2018 – 4/30/2023
Scott Telfer, EngD

Scott Telfer, EngD

CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awardee 2018
Project Title: Blood Flow Restriction for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Rehabilitation
Current Status: Complete

Project Description

Dr. Scott Telfer is a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and was one of two recipients of the inaugural CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awards.

Dr. Telfer’s project involved a cross-sectional study designed to test the acceptability of blood flow restriction training for those undergoing rehabilitation from ACL reconstruction surgery. It also investigated the biomechanical effects of the blood flow restriction training rehabilitation technique.

Rehabilitation after surgical reconstruction of the ACL aims to re-establish the function of the knee. Effectively building muscle strength requires exercises with high resistance loads, but the joint stress and risk of further injury make these types of activities inappropriate and unsafe for those rehabilitating after ACL reconstruction surgery. Personalized blood flow restriction training is a technique where the blood flow to the muscles being exercised is controlled by a pressure cuff to a predefined level, and has been shown to increase strength while exercising with significantly lower loads. Dr. Telfer’s CLEAR Pilot & Feasibility project compared 2 groups of 20 participants each: one group of individuals underwent rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction, and the second group was an age-, weight-, and sex-matched control group. Both groups completed personalized blood flow restriction training and had their movements and muscle activation monitored. Participants were also asked to complete post-exercise surveys rating the difficulty and discomfort associated with each exercise they performed.