LMU-DCOM student presents cerebral palsy research conference

Published 4:59 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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News release

Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine student Sarah Dance presented research about cerebral palsy (CP) patients at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in San Francisco, California. 

The AAOS provides education programs for orthopedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients, and is the authoritative source of information on bone and joint conditions, treatments, and related issues. 

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Dance’s research involved a machine-learning algorithm that can automatically detect landmarks needed to calculate the migration percentage in pediatric patients with CP. The severity of the disease ranges from mild motor impairments that may not be easily detectable to other symptoms that could result in the loss of voluntary movement and head control.

One in every three CP patients experiences hip displacement. Over time, it will progress and cause severe pain, disability, and decreased quality of life. From a young age, patients dealing with hip displacement are screened and placed on hip surveillance programs with regular clinical and radiographic follow-up appointments to reduce or prevent the growth of hip displacement. 

“Our institution sought to create a deep-learning algorithm that automatically detects the landmarks and reliably calculates MP. Secondarily, we evaluated the validity of our proposed algorithm,” she said. “The presentation focused on our preliminary results, determining how feasible our study is. As a very technical project, the research team consisted of orthopedic surgeons and engineers to help build the algorithm.” 

Dance and her team hope the research will assist clinical providers who may not have the time or expertise to measure MP. The hope is to streamline the process of screening and monitoring CP children with hip displacement, which will help with a diagnosis and treatment options. 

The following steps in the research process are improving the algorithm, making it faster, more accurate, and clinician-friendly by using more patient data and creating a desktop application. 

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, and at LMU-Knoxville in Knoxville, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community. It is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often-underserved region of Appalachia and beyond.