Dr. Wimmer Arthritis Foundation research

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Markus Wimmer

The third part of our researcher spotlight series is with Dr. Markus Wimmer, Associate Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Director of Human Motion Analysis and Tribology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Dr. Wimmer is one of 11 researchers to receive funding in early 2016 for his innovative research project, which uses mobile technology to show how a non-invasive treatment can improve health outcomes for people with osteoarthritis (OA). Dr. Wimmer’s 2 year research project is called “Augmented Feedback Using Pressure Detecting Insoles to Reduce Knee Loading”. The purpose of his research is to look at the use of a pressure based insole to train the OA patient to walk in a way that will reduce pressure in the knees. Reducing knee joint pressure loads may help reduce pain and disease progression.

The project uses special shoes that were designed as a result of a previous Arthritis Foundation- funded project at Rush University Medical Center and innovative insoles that were designed for this project. The shoes and the insoles are designed to be flexible and to mimic barefoot walking – something that has been shown to reduce pressure on the knees. The insoles send pressure feedback to a smartphone application. Subjects will be provided with a smartphone with the app that was specifically designed for use during the study.

After an initial 3 days of training with the shoes and the smartphone app in the presence of a trainer, each subject will continue to use the insoles and shoes for 3 weeks (weeks 0 to 3). Then subjects will continue for an additional 3 weeks (weeks 4 to 6) without the insole and smartphone feedback. Testing will be done at the end of the study to see if subjects changed their walking styles to reduce knee pressure.

The project recently enrolled its first subject. The study may enroll up to 40 subjects and is scheduled to run through early 2018.

This Arthritis Foundation investment is an example of the foundation’s pioneering work to bring mobile technology to scientific discovery. The use of mobile technology can play an important role in collecting valuable data in patient-centered research and can help to improve patient outcomes. Other work in this cutting edge field includes our thought leadership for the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative’s (CTTI) Mobile Clinical Trials Program. Information about the CTTI Mobile Clinical Trials program can be found here.

Read the first two parts of our researcher series, with Dr. Cho and with Dr. Sun.

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