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Our Research

Thanks to the dedication of our physicians and researchers, the dream that scientific breakthroughs will give doctors the tools and medicines to cure disease is becoming reality.

At Shriners Children's Chicago, doctors, biomedical engineers, clinicians, geneticists and scientists work to find new ways to heal and support children with complex medical needs.

The Shriners Children's Chicago research department specializes in:

Our physicians and researchers are actively engaged in ongoing research and are continually developing new and innovative ways to treat and care for children. Our Chicago research team is making breakthroughs in motion analysis to help care for children with orthopedic conditions such as clubfoot. Studies also seek to improve pediatric spinal cord injury evaluation and rehabilitation, and cleft lip and palate and craniofacial abnormalities. This work is changing the way that we care for patients with these conditions.

Through collaborations and the use of cutting-edge technology, our research department is currently:

  • Studying movement to correct leg, ankle and foot deformities through surgery and the use of orthotics.
  • Developing a Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory™ Spinal Cord Injury (PedsQL™ SCI) questionnaire to help medical professionals better evaluate the overall health and wellness of patients who experience a spinal cord injury in childhood.
  • Using AI to analyze data and more effectively address the mobility challenges associated with orthopedic conditions.
  • Creating a shared database of gait lab data, which includes an upcoming study focused on cerebral palsy.
  • Improving treatments for craniofacial microsomia through access to better data (project funded by grants from Georgia Tech).
  • The evaluation of the psychological, social, and educational impacts of having a cleft palate.

Working Together to Advance Pediatric Care

Shriners Children's Chicago hosts an annual research meeting for Shriners' spine surgeons, as well as a State of Research conference. These events are organized to bring together our network of researchers to provide updates, discuss their latest projects and share resources.

The Shriners Children's Chicago research program is an integral part of the system-wide Shriners Children's research program, driven to find cures and treatments that allow us to provide amazing care to children everywhere.

Research at Shriners Children's Chicago

Gerald Harris, Ph.D., director emeritus of our Motion Analysis Center, on the research data we use to provide the best care for kids at Shriners Hospitals for Children.
View Transcript

Gerald Harris:

Shriners is also a research facility. It's one of our major goals, clinical research specifically. We have extensive data that is not typically gathered in a hospital. Most hospitals don't have these facilities. They don't have motion analysis labs. They don't focus the way that we do on the pediatric population. So when you come to this hospital, we have data, but we also have data that's very accessible to us. It's managed, so it's easy to find that data. It's easy to look at year six versus year two, year three versus year five, or to look at a progression from years one, two, and three as a patient to see what's happening. So it's extremely valuable to provide better care for the children and even go so far as to help them to transition to adult care.

Funding and Support for Our Research Programs

Our research is made possible through funding and grants from:

  • Shriners Children's national research funding
  • Other philanthropic and industrial sources

Funding from our generous donors provides new hope and opportunities for children with orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation needs, craniofacial and other pediatric conditions.

Motion Analysis Research

With a fully equipped state-of-the-art motion analysis center, our researchers at Shriners Children's Chicago are able to collect data that helps our physicians and specialists develop personalized treatment plans for our patients. The staff in our motion analysis center has worked with nearly 2,000 children since opening in 1989 and continues to perform more than 300 examinations a year.

Our motion analysis research includes the collection of data to improve treatment approaches to neuromuscular differences and deformities. This team is also developing new ways to help determine when athletes who have suffered from orthopedic injuries can safely return to participation in sport.

The data captured at our facility in Chicago is also used as part of our larger system-wide motion analysis research program, which aims to provide personalized treatment plans for our own patients while developing innovative treatment options for other children with similar conditions around the world.

Our Research Commitment

Research Committed to Helping Children and Their Families

Our team of doctors and scientists are devoted to researching new ways to treat complex pediatric medical conditions. This team is committed to finding treatments to help children live healthy, independent lives and reach their full potential.
female patient with provider

Innovation in Pediatric Orthopedics

Our motion analysis center partners with the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Engineering Center at Marquette University, a group dedicated to using technology to develop new ways to treat and care for pediatric patients with orthopedic disabilities.
Dr. Capello with patient and two other providers

Improving Spine Care Through the Pediatric Spine Registry

 The Shriners Children's Chicago research team is an active participant in the Pediatric Spine Registry. This registry uses our large patient population to share anonymous data of participants with physicians across the country involved in orthopedics, spine and scoliosis care. The purpose of the Pediatric Spine Registry is to improve the scope of care and answer questions about which treatments are best for children with spine conditions.
patient holding X-ray

We Understand the Unique Medical Needs of Children

We provide vital, pioneering treatment from birth to age 18. Here, children have the opportunity to be evaluated and treated by doctors recognized as the best by their peers.