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MRRI 2020 - a Year in Review
By: Peter Schnellenberger
Jan 11 2021

Screenshot from MRRI's zoom holiday party.

Despite its challenges, 2020 saw a buzz of activity at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI). With a core mission to improve the lives of individuals with neurological disabilities through translational research. MRRI contributed over 40 research papers to scientific literature publications, many in high impact journals. In addition, our scientists presented over 40 invited conference presentations, while many served as committee members and leaders for professional organizations and meetings.

To enhance safety in response to the COVID pandemic, the MossRehab Aphasia Center commenced online activities for members while the Research Registry created systems for remote or minimal contact during the consent process for study participants. The Klein Family Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center developed several new innovations including a recruitment capacity, an expanded registry database, and a data repository. All of these new elements are key for recruiting patients for studies, tracking clinical therapy, and monitoring rehabilitation outcomes. Our T32 post-doctoral fellowship training program, a collaboration with renowned scientists at U Penn that is funded by the National Institutes of Health, continues to flourish. Two post-doctoral fellows recently completed the program and received exceptional opportunities for the next phase of their careers. Two new fellows joined the program in fall of 2020, recruited from a highly competitive pool of applicants.


MRRI Collaborates with MossRehab on Educational Activities

MRRI is proud of the bridge between science and practice embodied by our relationship with clinical partners at MossRehab (again ranked among the nation’s best hospitals by U.S. News and World Report). We boast a history of integrative educational activities such as the Shrier Family Topics in Rehabilitation lecture series, with presentations  spanning the latest research findings from our scientists to clinical research from experienced MossRehab clinicians. MRRI and MossRehab jointly held a successful International Symposium on Rehabilitation Robotics onsite in 2019 that showcased the local practical applications of robotics in rehabilitation. At the event, clinicians discussed the theoretical grounds and scientific data for this technology. In 2020, MRRI researchers and MossRehab clinicians, supported by the Moss Traumatic Brain Injury Model System grant, developed an evidence-based protocol for care of patients with severe memory deficits due to acute traumatic brain injury. An observational study evaluating the protocol’s efficacy was published in the journal Brain Injury. The protocol guidelines and training materials are publicly available on the MRRI website. Both the structured and the organic interaction between researchers and clinicians remains an important ongoing focus and are considered a key to our organizational success.


Responding to the COVID-19

During the past year, MRRI quickly adapted new protocols in response to the unanticipated challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring the safety of research participants and staff, MRRI moved from in-person experimental work and recruitment to remote work such as data analysis, manuscript writing, and grant preparation. MRRI and MossRehab also developed a COVID-19 clinical database to track patients and understand outcomes. Many of these new efficiencies and methods will continue as standard procedures in a post-COVID era.

The work of our clinical colleagues at MossRehab and Einstein Healthcare Network remains remarkable, noted by a first-rate delivery of clinical care. This, among other attributes, make MossRehab a top workplace for doctors, physical therapists, reserachers and other clinicians.

Alongside MossRehab, MRRI continues to maintain a vibrant and supportive environment that is conducive to ongoing high-quality translational research. Our scientists have the intellectual freedom to pursue their programmatic research goals in support of the MRRI mission. We look forward to 2021 and continued interactions between internal staff, clinical and scientific collaborators, and affiliates.

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