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UTHealth to host free forum on latest advances in rehabilitation

Doctor who treated U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to lead discussion

HOUSTON - (Jan. 13, 2012) - While you are reading this, there is a good chance you are moving your hands, arms and maybe even your legs. Muscle control is required for activities even as simple as picking up a newspaper. Unfortunately, many people have limited control of body movement.

Each year, many people experience injuries that can restrict movement. Physical medicine and rehabilitation is a medical specialty designed to address and meet the needs of a physically challenged population.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Neuroscience Research Center is hosting a free forum on advances in rehabilitation research and care at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in Room 3.001 of the UTHealth Medical School, 6431 Fannin.

Gerard Francisco, M.D., the doctor who managed the rehabilitative care of wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and other leaders in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation will discuss exciting research in the pipeline and talk about current therapies.

That research includes work underway at the UTHealth Medical School and Rice University to develop an electro-mechanical device designed to help patients who are no longer able to manipulate their arms and wrists. The robotic device is for rehabilitation, assisting participants with the movement of their arms.

As for treatments, doctors at UTHealth and TIRR Memorial Hermann are using a surgically implanted medication pump to relieve symptoms of spasticity, a complication of injury to the central nervous system that can cause muscle tightening and restrict body movement.

The Neuroscience Research Center at UTHealth, which is sponsoring the public forum, is a university-wide center where diverse and multi-disciplinary research is conducted to further the understanding of neural and behavioral disorders. Many UTHealth faculty members hold appointments at the center.

Francisco, professor and chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the UTHealth Medical School and chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann, will moderate a panel discussion.

Panelists include Corwin Boake, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Berliner, D.O., who are both on the UTHealth faculty and TIRR Memorial Hermann medical staff, along with Marcia K. O’Malley, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering  and Materials Science at Rice University.

“Our goal in rehabilitation is to improve the patient’s overall function,” Boake said. “Some people can’t be cured. In those cases, we develop strategies to compensate for their impairment.”

Additional information is available by calling 713-500-5538. Reservations are not required.

Rob Cahill
Media Contact: 713-500-3030