This year’s Stepping Strong Innovator Awards finalists are addressing complex challenges related to trauma research. Each of the three finalists hopes to receive the $100,000 Stepping Strong Innovator Awards, which will be announced online on Monday, Oct. 17. Read about their work below, and vote for your choice.

Giorgio Giatsidis, MD

Giorgio Giatsidis, MD

Stimulating Muscles to Accelerate Rehabilitation – Giorgio Giatsidis, MD

What challenge does your project address?

Injuries to the legs and arms often destroy muscle, reducing both mass and strength. Today, there are almost no approved therapies or strategies—for use in conjunction with standard physical therapy—to induce muscle regeneration or accelerate recovery following trauma. Unfortunately, current interventions remain rudimentary, and prolonged hospitalization incurs further tissue damage.

Once home, trauma patients face a steep path of rehabilitation. I call this “the trauma iceberg.” That is, what we see—and treat—is only the tip of what our patients actually experience. This project aims to break the trauma iceberg by developing novel therapies to initiate muscle recovery immediately following the trauma, prevent the onset of further inactivity-induced damage and accelerate the rehabilitation path toward a normal life.

What is a compelling aspect of your project?

Our cells regenerate in response to mechanical stimulation. For example, when we go to the gym, we stimulate muscles by stretching and contracting them, and this activity makes them grow. These principles can also be used to design novel, safe, non-invasive and patient-friendly therapies.

This project seeks to address the burden of prolonged trauma rehabilitation by passively stimulating injured muscles to regenerate and accelerate their recovery directly at the bedside. To realize our goals, our team will determine the exact conditions to effectively promote mechanically induced regeneration of injured muscle and, in collaboration with engineers, integrate these findings into the development of a portable device that can be easily applied to trauma patients inside the hospital and at home.

How will your project benefit future patients who suffer from trauma-related injuries?

Traumatic muscle injuries to legs and arms are a very common and dramatic occurrence. Trauma care for these patients does not end with the treatment of acute, life-threatening conditions and wounds. It continues through the long, challenging path of rehabilitation.

Our proposed therapy and device will help to facilitate muscle regeneration in a hospital setting, prevent the onset of further damage and accelerate the path of rehabilitation.

or read more about the other Stepping Strong Innovator Awards finalists:

mikeweaver_ortho21st Century Tools to Measure
the Progress of Bone Healing

jay-zampiniDetecting Early Neurological Decline
to Prevent Paralysis