Tina Vrabec, PhD
Staff Scientist, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MetroHealth
BROAD RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Dr. Vrabec is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine. Her research has focused on the development of waveforms and electrodes for the application of electrical nerve block, and the integration of this modality with other electrical and non-electrical methods for controlling the nervous system. Her ongoing research demonstrates the feasibility of this general approach to implement system level control of the nervous system. Short term goals involve characterizing waveforms using direct current and developing/testing the chronic viability of electrodes suitable for direct current nerve block. The ultimate aim is to deploy these methods in clinical applications involving autonomic, sensory (pain), and motor function.
Recent work included the application of both high frequency and direct current nerve block for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia. Future work involves the use of partial nerve block for the control of reflex pathways in the cardiac sympathetic pathway for the control of arrhythmia. Dr. Vrabec’s previous history in the controls industry helps her to bring a unique viewpoint to the problem of control of the nervous system. Ongoing interest in electrical nerve block as an option for suppression of peripheral pain has generated interest from industrial partners including Neuros Medical, Avanos Medical and Presidio Medical. Dr. Vrabec’s involvement in these partnerships and development of a robust intellectual property portfolio can lead to commercially viable solutions while further expanding our knowledge of the effect of nerve block on pain fibers. Before completing her PhD, Dr. Vrabec was involved as a software engineer to develop implantable devices and software to be used by both patients and clinical staff to provide rehabilitative therapies. In this role, she worked with clinicians to develop user interfaces that were deployed in multi-center trials for lower extremity FES systems. Future direction in this area is the use of nerve block to suppress spasticity for both SCI as well as stroke patients. This is yet another application in which electrical nerve block can have a tremendous clinical impact.
PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIPS
1989-present Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
SPECIFIC RESEARCH TOPICS
- Arm and Hand Movement after SCI
- Bladder Function after SCI
- Respiratory and Cough Function after SCI
- Arm and Hand Movement after Stroke
- Reducing Shoulder Pain
- Walking after Stroke
- Reducing Back Pain
- Rehabilitation with Electrical Nerve Block