Mayo Clinic's Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center draws on the strong clinical practice, research and education skills in rehabilitation medicine and surgery. In the Children's Research Center at Mayo Clinic, doctors and scientists from a wide range of fields work together to improve health care for newborns, children and teenagers. The center aims to ensure today's children — whether healthy or ill — become tomorrow's healthy adults.

A person in a crouched skiing stance during a research study.

For example, the long-term goal of one research team is to understand the effects of spasticity and spasticity treatment on muscle properties to improve quality of life for children with cerebral palsy and other diagnoses associated with spasticity. Focus areas include:

  • Spasticity treatment. The team is working to measure the effects of botulinum neurotoxin and selective dorsal rhizotomy on passive muscle stiffness in children with cerebral palsy. The team is using novel ultrasound technology in order to provide evidence-based treatment recommendations.
  • Effects of spasticity on the developing central nervous system. Using an animal model of congenital hypertonia, we are investigating the development and maturation of spinal motor neurons and motor units, which are critical to physical function and muscle control. The long-term goal is to identify optimal timing for regenerative rehabilitation interventions along with new targets for these interventions.
  • Measurement tools for cerebral palsy. We are working with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and a group of clinical researchers to update and maintain a source of measures and methods for collecting data in clinical research involving children with cerebral palsy. This resource is called Cerebral Palsy Common Data Elements (CP CDEs).

Another group of studies is looking at exercise and activity levels in children of all abilities.

  • Education and exercise. One study investigates compliance with physical activity recommendations based on how information is delivered so that we can improve our service to patients with autonomic dysfunction and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).
  • Physical activity in children with cerebral palsy (CP). The study aims to investigate knowledge and understanding, daily behavior, physical competency, motivation and confidence surrounding physical activity in children with CP. The secondary aim is to compare responses from the Promoting Lifestyle & Activity in Youth (PLAY) questionnaire between typically developing children and children with CP.

Other lines of active research include:

  • Plagiocephaly. We are using a population-based approach to quantify the incidence of nonsynostotic positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly as well as investigate the association with disorders that affect development.
  • Diversity and inclusion. A therapy team is focusing on patients who speak Arabic to determine their needs and preferences in order to optimize rehabilitative care.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and mental health. A foundational study using the Southeast Minnesota Birth Cohort will determine risk of psychiatric diagnosis after childhood TBI.
  • Training and certification related to pediatric rehabilitation. Various studies seek to understand the professional certification process for physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors as well as subspecialists including pediatric rehabilitation medicine.


See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors about physical medicine and rehabilitation on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

For more information, see the Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation Research pages. Or visit the Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center.

Research Profiles

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June 02, 2022