University of South Florida

USF opens Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Research

Aiming to gain a better understanding of human neuromusculoskeletal functions and provide innovative, promising, and non-invasive diagnostic and rehabilitative treatment methods, the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences recently opened its Center for Neuromusculoskeletal Research (CNMSR).

The Center, which is housed in the School’s groundbreaking Human Functional Performance Laboratory, gained approval in April to open and earned critical recurring funding from the Florida Legislature in the 2012 session.

Neuromusculoskeletal disorders arise from overused or injured muscles, tendons or ligaments. They affect the body’s nervous system, brain, spinal cord, nerves, as well as muscles, bones, cartilage, and joints. Examples of diseases include arthritis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, lupus, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Neuromusculoskeletal diseases and conditions are the largest self-reported medical conditions affecting adults in the United States today, said William S. Quillen, PT, DPT, PhD, FACSM, associate dean in the Morsani College of Medicine, and professor and director of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

“And those numbers are projected to increase, becoming a very large burden in terms of mounting costs, increased disability, and loss of quality of life for not only the general population, but for military personnel and first responders, as well,” he said.

photo of Dr. Jason Highsmith, Dr. William Quillen, and Dr. John Mayer

Dr. Jason Highsmith, Dr. William Quillen, and Dr. John Mayer


The CNMSR will be co-directed by spinal pain and disability expert John Mayer, DC, PhD, Lincoln Endowed Research Chair and associate professor, and prosthetics expert Jason Highsmith, PT, DPT, CP, assistant professor. The Center will be an interdisciplinary clinical research enterprise designed to develop and test novel prevention and treatment strategies for neuromusculoskeletal disorders, clarify the role of various therapeutic approaches in the successful and cost-effective management, and promulgate guidelines for best practices for prevention and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions.

“The Center will transform the care of neuromusculoskeletal disorders by creating a multidisciplinary and integrative platform for research and the development of evidence-based approaches for assessment, prevention, and treatment,” Dr. Quillen said.

“This Center will be a major contributor to the diverse scientific and clinical fields that manage these disorders. It will allow us to quantify the impairments and limitations of human functions and provide interventions, be they drug therapies or physical therapies, that improve the quality of life for so many.”

The Center currently has more than $2.5 million in funded research underway supported by the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as corporate partners. In addition, the CNMSR recently gained $500,000 in recurring funding in the 2013 fiscal year state budget from the Florida Legislature.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, photo by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications

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