October 2023
Focusing on Fibromyalgia

Spaulding researcher Jeungchan Lee, PhD, (pictured, right) was the co–first author on a recent study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, which demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can significantly reduce the impact of fibromyalgia pain by reducing the response of the brain networks associated with sensing and processing pain-related information. Affecting about 4 million U.S adults, predominantly women, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. The randomized, controlled trial of female fibromyalgia patients found that not only did CBT reduce the negative cognitive and emotional responses to pain that can make the condition so burdensome but, through neuroimaging, revealed visible changes in the connectivity between the parts of the brain linked to self-awareness and pain perception. Other Spaulding researchers from the Scott Schoen and Nancy Adams Discovery Center for the Recovery from Chronic Pain who contributed to the multi-institutional study included Alessandra Anzolin, PhD; Arvina Grahl, PhD; and co–senior author Vitaly Napadow, PhD. (pictured with Dr. Lee above, left). Read more in the Mass General Brigham press release.
Felipe Fregni, MD, PhD, director of Spaulding’s Neuromodulation Laboratory, was senior author of a recent study published in The Journal of Pain, which examined the effectiveness of using non-invasive brain stimulation in the home setting to treat fibromyalgia. This randomized, controlled trial showed that the home-based treatment, which delivers a low-level electric current to head via small electrodes, was effective in reducing the pain and disability associated with the condition. This study, too, showed that the treatment had tangible impact on the brain’s functioning, altering the levels of blood-based neurotrophic factors, small molecules that support the growth and survival of brain cells. These factors may serve as a valuable marker to better understand the response to pain in future studies.  
Spotlight Q&A: Jeungchan Lee, PhD

Dr. Lee is using brain imaging to help to shed light on how people manifest and perceive pain with the ultimate goal of uncovering more effective alternative treatments. Click here for our Q&A to learn more about his work and what it means for patients.

“Working as a researcher in a rehabilitation hospital has been quite a unique experience. It has been a great stimulant for me to think about how to contribute my knowledge and experience to manage patients’ pain effectively.”—Dr. Jeungchan Lee

Building a Better Robot

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Barrett Medical and Spaulding Rehabilitation a $2 million grant for joint research to explore the use of the Barrett Upper-Extremity Robotic Trainer (Burt®), an advanced robotic system, for the recovery from stroke and other neurological injuries and diseases. The grant will support the development of a real-time adaptive assistance mode for Burt that encourages the patient to use their own volitional movement as much as possible. “In stroke rehabilitation, patient engagement in therapy is critical for improving functional outcomes,” says Randie Black-Schaffer, MD, Director of Stroke Program and Site Principal Investigator at Spaulding. “Robot-assisted rehabilitation can provide repeatable, high-intensity therapy tailored to the needs of the patient while also decreasing the load on the therapist.” Learn more on Newswires.  
Hurdles for Young Athletes

Spaulding–based physiatrists, Mary Dubon, MD, and Rebecca Siegel, MD, (pictured in order) have been conducting research at Boston Childrens Hospital that explores sports participationand the barriers and facilitators to that participationin youth with lower-limb deficiencies and amputation. Dr. Dubon, who is fellowship-trained in both pediatric rehabilitation medicine and sports medicine, and Dr. Siegel, who is fellowship-trained in pediatric rehabilitation medicine, have found that, while a high percentage of this population has a history of playing sports, the majority also experienced barriers to participation. These barriers include modifiable factors, such as coaches’ inexperience working with these individuals, suggesting there are opportunities to improve equity in sport for these young people.
This research has been presented at national meetings for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine (PRiSM), and the Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics (ACPOC). For this work, Dr. Siegel was awarded the New Investigator Research Award at the ACPOC 2023 Annual Meeting, and Dr. Dubon was nominated as one of three candidates for the PRiSM Diversity Award at the PRiSM 2023 Annual Meeting.

Game Changers

On Thursday, October 12, Spaulding held its inaugural Voices in Discovery event, which was launched to share its renowned expertise with a broader audience and to encourage engagement to help advance its life-changing mission. The evening’s program—Game Changers: Exploring New Ways to Tackle Concussion—featured two Spaulding clinician–scientists who have dedicated their careers to the field of brain injury recovery: Ross Zafonte, DO, (pictured) and Dan Daneshvar, MD, PhD. (Dr. Daneshvar also spoke about this topic on Spaulding’s Finding Strength podcast last month. Listen and learn more here.)
They were joined by special guests Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician Tiffany Starks, MD, and former NFL player and sports broadcaster Max Starks (pictured, left to right), who offered their unique perspective on concussion and sports. Held at Spaulding’s flagship hospital in Charlestown, the robust panel was bookended by an introduction from Chair of the Board of Trustees Paula Ness Speers and closing remarks by Development Committee Chair Ben Levitan. More than 150 people were in attendance, many of them new to Spaulding’s incredible work.  
Spotlight Event Extra

At Game Changers, the first in Spaulding’s Voices in Discovery series, attendees gained an insider’s look at the science behind concussions and the impact it is having on athletes at all levels. Click here for some of the latest information and insights from our expert panel.  

“What we’re trying to do tonight is explore a controversial issue with a lot of myths, and we’re going to keep our responses focused in that world that goes between both science and human beings. Because in many ways, medicine is the most scientific of the humanities, and we should think of it that way.”
—Dr. Ross Zafonte

Spotlight Shorts
Change Maker

The Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) has recognized Spaulding Hospital Boston’s Chief Medical Officer Cheri Blauwet, MD, with its Mary Lou Maloney Award for Systemic Change. The DPC is Massachusetts’s leading disability rights advocacy and research organization. A clinician–researcher in sports medicine with a focus on the adaptive athlete, Dr. Blauwet will receive the award at the Third Annual John Winske Memorial Awards ceremony on November 15.

Best of the Best

U.S. News & World Report has recognized Spaulding as one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the country with a rank of #2 in its 2023 “Best Hospitals” issue. Spaulding continues to be the only rehabilitation hospital in New England ranked each year since 1995. Spaulding was also recently honored as a “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion” with a top score on the Disability Equality Index for the seventh year in a row.
Front Runner

Joanne Borg-Stein, MD, has received the 2023 Distinguished Member Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), which honors Academy members who have provided invaluable service to the specialty and contributed significantly to its advancement. A physiatrist focused on regenerative medicine for musculoskeletal (MSK) injury, Dr. Borg-Stein’s research centers on the use of platelet-rich plasma and other orthobiologics for sports medicine and osteoarthritis. 
Spotlight on Spaulding Science is a quarterly e-newsletter for donors and friends of the Schoen Adams Research Institute at Spaulding Rehabilitation. For questions or to submit your own research news item, please contact: Alexandra Molloy at amolloy@mgb.org.
If you do not wish to receive certain or all fundraising communications from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Development Office, please email us; write us; call us at 617-952-6880; or visit giving.spauldingnetwork.org/optout.