US News and World Report puts the UCLA Medical Center as the third best hospital in the country by reputation and ranks the Department of Neurology and the Neurorehabilitation program among the best specialty programs in the United States.
Our program draws upon the resources of the faculty at UCLA and our colleagues in the United States and other countries. We pursue basic neuroscientific and clinical research avenues to test and to bring the best rehabilitation interventions to our patients.
Our goal is to improve the functional abilities of people so they can reach and grasp, walk, speak, remember, and carry out their daily activities as best as possible.
Our basic and clinical research especially aims to improve motor control and skills for walking, use of an affected upper extremity, balance, and mobility in the community. For example, Dr. Carmichael studies the molecular and cellular pathways that can enhance regeneration of neurons and axons and strengthen their synaptic connections in the brain. In animal models of stroke, he has successfully regenerated these critical components, leading to remarkable improvements. Some of these studies are moving toward treatments for patients, including stem cell implantation. Dr. Havton studies ways to repair motor neurons and ventral roots/peripheral nerves after injury by reimplanting nerves and manipulating the molecular signals that enable them to regrow.
Drs. Dobkin and Carmichael and other collaborators at UCLA and other universities study the mechanisms of learning and memory that may augment skills during rehabilitation training. They test medications that stimulate plasticity of brain connections in animal models of brain injury and in patients. Trials in patients may also involve methods to stimulate the excitability of the neural pathways that need to be engaged during practice. Techniques include non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcortical direct current stimulation of the motor and language systems.
Drs. Dobkin and Dorsch work with UCLA engineers and computer scientists to create inexpensive, wearable sensors that monitor the type, quantity, and quality of daily activities in the home and community. Using this remotely collected data about walking, cycling, exercise, and skills practice to improve gait, they provide feedback about performance to patients during their rehabilitation and beyond. The data also serve as highly reliable outcome measurement tools across diseases. At a new facility for inpatient rehabilitation for UCLA, Cedars Sinai and other sites that will open in 2016, called the California Rehabilitation Institute in Century City, Drs. Dorsch, Dobkin and Alexander will test tele-rehabilitation techniques, enabled by the sensors.
Our studies often move from the research laboratory into testing in large randomized clinical trials. For example, Dr. Dobkin and colleagues have translated from the “bench-to-bedside” several multi-center clinical trials: body weight-supported treadmill training for spinal cord and brain injury and for stroke, robotic-assistive stepping, medications to improve functional use of the arm after stroke, functional imaging studies in stroke, and wireless sensor monitoring of daily mobility after stroke, multiple sclerosis, and dementia.
The Program has had high success in receiving funding for research from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and private foundations, including the Larry Hillblom Foundation, Edward and Catherine Davis Foundation, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G Adelson Medical Research Foundation, Richard Merkin Foundation, and many individuals.
Donations to the Program to promote research and patient care for disabled persons can be made to the UC Regents and sent to Dr. Bruce Dobkin atReed Neurologic Research Center
710 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1769