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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna’s Research Institute guides new PM&R residents

September 18, 2020

If you are recovering at a rehabilitation hospital after a serious injury or illness, a physiatrist (doctor of physical medicine) is the gold standard for onsite physician care. With the growing demand for physiatrists across the country, Madonna and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, joined together to build a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) program through the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in 2018.

In addition to coursework and clinical rotations, research is a required component of PM&R residency and, this summer, Madonna’s Research Institute has mentored two PM&R residents: Dr. Seella Nimmo and Dr. Alex Jacobsen.

“Involvement in Madonna's Research institute has been helpful in seeing first-hand how research and technology development translate into reality,” Dr. Nimmo said. “Being able to bridge both the research and clinical sides of rehab will provide me with more tools by which to approach/manage various issues that will ultimately benefit the patient population I serve.”

Dr. Nimmo’s research is laying a foundation for understanding how training programs delivered on the Madonna ICARE by SportsArt can be used to promote recovery of arm function. Dr. Jacobsen’s work focused on how to customize ICARE training to improve function and independence by progressively challenging trunk muscles.

He will present his findings at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) virtual conference in October.

 “The ability to control and augment trunk muscle activation patterns during gait training could be used across a multitude of scenarios,” Jacobsen said. “Patients who are weak from stroke, traumatic brain injury, cancer or surgery could benefit from a therapy tool and exercise regimen that places less stress on the trunk muscles, providing the same exercise benefits and more time for recovery.”

Collectively, this work is expected to advance rehabilitation science and care for individuals recovering from serious injuries and illnesses. “The resources and experiences at UNMC and Madonna are huge,” Dr. Jacobsen said. “I feel like being here will allow me to gain experience and exposure to the breadth of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation field to feel comfortable with my transition from resident to practicing physiatrist.”

The PM&R program is the only such program in Nebraska and the Upper Midwest. Its inception was made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Robert and Claire Buchman. Sadly, Dr. Buchman passed away August 4 at age 91. We are grateful for the lasting legacy the Buchman’s have left for the benefit of our patients and appreciate their incredible generosity.