Hand Research Laboratory, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio

Director: Zong-Ming Li, Ph.D.

Drs. Woo and Li in Pittsburgh MSRC, 2004

The Hand Research Laboratory, currently located at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, was originally established in 2001 in Professor Savio L-Y. Woo’s Musculoskeletal Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Since its inception the laboratory has been dedicated to orthopaedic and rehabilitation research of the hand and upper extremity. Currently, our research encompasses carpal tunnel mechanics and hand sensorimotor function with a clinical emphasis on carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a worldwide endemic hand disorder. Our work related to carpal tunnel mechanics has investigated the mechanical properties of the transverse carpal ligament and structural properties of the carpal tunnel in an effort to develop innovative, non-surgical treatment for CTS. Our goal is to biomechanically treat CTS by manipulating carpal tunnel geometry and mechanics to increase its volume and decompress the median nerve without severing the transverse carpal ligament. Concurrent research related to hand sensorimotor function has examined the pathokinetics and pathophysiology manifestations due to CTS. We aim to clarify the biomechanical and neurophysiological mechanisms of sensorimotor functional deficits associated with CTS, and identify biomechanical and neural markers to detect symptoms during the earliest stages, when intervention is most effective. Our research findings on CTS have provided fresh biomechanical and neuroengineering perspectives to this hand disorder, moving towards a more comprehensive understanding of disease mechanisms and improved management for diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and prevention.

Housed within the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, the Hand Research Laboratory is outfitted with cutting edge bioengineering technology and its members work closely alongside multidisciplinary research teams, allowing us to solve hand and upper extremity problems in innovative and impactful ways. In parallel with our programmatic research driven by CTS, our laboratory also investigates a number of issues of the upper limb, including joint stiffness, hand rehabilitation, tendon rupture, wrist pathomechanics, elbow implants, and shoulder arthroplasty. Our research team, together with its collaborators and supporters, possess a wide spectrum of expertise in engineering, kinesiology, biomechanics, motor control, orthopaedics, occupational therapy, biology, neuromuscular medicine, rehabilitation, and clinical outcomes. Our research activities have been sponsored by over 40 federal, state, foundation, and institutional grants resulting in over 100 peer reviewed publications in more than 40 peer-reviewed journals, with work recognized by professional awards, invited lectures, and media reports. The Hand Research Laboratory strives to achieve excellence through dedicated effort, innovative research, multidisciplinary collaboration, educational activities, and professional service.