Cardiovascular & Pulmonary C.O.R.E. »

Cardiovascular & Pulmonary C.O.R.E.

Scientific Director

Alex Ovechkin, MD, PhD
Associate Professor



Sevda Aslan, PhD
Research Scientist

Bonnie Ditterline, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Associate


Eddie Brown
Lab Research Manager


Hanna Martin
Research Tech II

Jesse Fisher
Research Tech II

Sarah Ostermeier
Research Tech I

Kevin Tran
Research Tech I


Pulmonary Function Test (~1 hour): records lung volumes, airflow and airways pressure by using standard equipment while participant sits in a personal wheelchair for about one hour. Participants are asked to inhale and exhale in the testing devices while their noses are closed with plastic clip.

Respiratory Motor Control Assessment (~3 hours): Participants repeat the pulmonary function test sitting in a special hospital bed and lying on their back while we record the electrical impulses from the muscles of the neck, chest, arms, legs, abdomen and back (including the heart). These impulses supply information about muscle contraction. We also record chest and abdomen movement with elastic belts and blood pressure using a finger cuff.

Orthostatic Stress Test (~2 hours): Using the same methods as above, we blood pressure, heart rate and chest and abdomen movements are measured while participants lay on their backs and again when the position is rapidly changed to sitting. With blood draw: licensed personnel take blood samples from a small catheter inserted in a vein in the arm.

Maximal Oxygen Consumption (~1 hour): determines the amount of oxygen used during exercise. No moderate or heavy exercise is permitted for 12 hours before the test. The participant breathes through a mouth piece face mask that covers the nose and mouth while performing aerobic exercises on special equipment adapted for people with spinal cord injury. Depending on the specific injury, participant will be asked to perform aerobic using: Arm crank ergometer (remaining in wheelchair), Treadmill with body weight support for standing/stepping, or Seated stepper with push-pull arm movements. Heart rate and blood pressure before, during and after exercise are monitored.

Resting Metabolic Rate (~1 hour): This test will measures metabolic activity at rest. Participants are asked to fast for 10-12 hours before the test and refrain from exercise prior to the testing that morning. After laying down on the back quietly for about 45 minutes, a plastic canopy hood is placed over the head and shoulders to contain the air being breathed. We will measure the gases in the air you exhale to test how much energy your body uses at rest.

Trans-Cranial Doppler (~1 hour): A headset with ultrasound sensors that touch each temple (with gel applied) is placed on the top of the participants’ heads and sensors are adjusted until the chosen arteries are visible. Participant is asked to close eyes and rest quietly or read printed text on a computer screen. When the test begins, an alarm signals to open the eyes and view a slide on the computer screen. A second alarm signals to again close the eyes and rest quietly. This is repeated until all slides are viewed. In some cases, blood flow parameters are recorded.

Pulse Wave (~1 hour each): Heart and blood vessel structure and function and stiffness are assessed as well as arterial muscle properties using ultrasound, light, and pressure detecting technology. The tests are performed while participant is laying on the back, on the side and while seated. The purpose of the exam is NOT to assess overall cardiovascular health or to diagnose unknown diseases. However, abnormalities that may put health at risk may be observed, and if they are, findings are reported to our study physician. Conversely, the University of Louisville and Frazier Rehab Research Team(s) are NOT liable for undiscovered cardiovascular health issues present at the time of the exam.

24-Hour Automatic Blood Pressure Monitoring: A small recording device for blood pressure is worn on the participant’s arm throughout the day and while performing normal daily activities.