15:22 PM

Kevin Bell Receives Funding for Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation Tool

Kevin Bell, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, received a $10,000 award to continue development of CuffLink, a remote rehabilitation system for rotator cuff injury.

This common injury, which affects the muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, increases with age and affects millions of Americans each year. If non-surgical treatments do not relieve pain, doctors may recommend surgery, which requires significant physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder joint.

The CuffLink system allows patients to perform early rehabilitation at home, which minimizes trips to a physical therapist and encourages users to complete a full treatment program.

“Our at-home device not only provides a safe and protected range of motion and strengthening exercises, but it also uses quantitative motion sensors to deliver feedback to clinicians, allowing doctors to remotely monitor progress,” Bell said.

Recovery from rotator cuff surgery is a marathon, not a sprint. Neglecting post-operative physical therapy can slow healing and potentially lead to reinjury, but individuals often lose patience or cannot afford the extensive process.

“We believe this device will ultimately encourage patients to complete a full physical therapy program,” Bell added. “The remote monitoring will allow doctors to specifically tailor treatment for each patient, and the overall system has the potential to reduce costs for the patient, healthcare provider, and insurer.”

Michelle Riffitts, a student in the Department of Bioengineering’s DPT/PhD program, will contribute to the project as the entrepreneurial lead.

“With the funds from the First Gear Competition, we are looking to perform an accuracy study with a prototype of the device,” she said. “From there we are looking to continue iterative development, incorporating feedback from potential users along the way.”