Project Description

NIH Awards Grant to Past FPTR-Funding Recipient to Learn More About Gait-Related Trips Post Stroke

Trip-related falls are a concern for patients living post-stroke. Research has helped to identify how these individuals respond to tripping, however much remains to be learned about the internal causes that cause patients to trip in the first place. Past FPTR-funding recipient Michael Lewek, PT, PhD, was awarded a 2-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21 award to learn more.

In 2002, Lewek, was awarded an FPTR scholarship to work towards his PhD in Biomechanics and Movement Science at the University of Delaware. Lewek also received a 2009 Geriatric Research Grant for his project titled, “Biomechanical Influences on Motor Learning During Locomotor Retraining Post-Stroke,” to help people post-stroke learn to walk.

Now an Associate Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Associate Director of the Closed Loop Engineering for Advanced Rehabilitation (CLEAR) core, Lewek continues to expand his research. In addition to learning more about why people trip after a stroke when they are walking, he will look at the role clinicians play in prevention.

In a UNC press release, Lewek notes that results from this study could prevent falls and improve quality of life for people following a stroke. ““Falls are a big deal, especially in older adults,” said Lewek. “We’re trying to eliminate falls from happening.”

Lewek credits the Foundation with helping him jump-start his research career. “The Foundation helps the profession move forward by funding research,” said Lewek. “These [awards] are a great starting point, and I’m finding that as I’ve met more senior researchers, many of them have told me they began their careers with the help of Foundation funding too.”

According to Lewek, his subsequent award from the American Heart Association to explore the role of visual and proprioceptive feedback during treadmill training for post-stroke patients was in part due to his 2009 Foundation grant.

Lewek also studies gait and walking ability in patients with Parkinson’s disease. To read more about other FPTR-funded researchers, visit  Foundation4pt.org/foundation-alumni/.

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MICHAEL LEWEK, PT, PhD

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