Cardiovascular and Pulmonary »

Provides state-of-the-art assessments specific to cardiovascular and pulmonary function.

Alex Ovechkin, MD, PhD
Associate Professor




Sevda Aslan, Ph.D
Research Scientist

Bonnie Ditterline, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Core Manager:

Eddie Brown
Lab Research Manager

Core Personnel:

Hanna Martin
Research Tech II


Jesse Fisher
Research Tech II

Kevin Tran
Research Tech I

Sarah Ostermeier
Research Tech I


Pulmonary Function Test: this test includes recordings of lung volumes, airflow and airways pressure by using standard equipment while sitting in personal wheelchair. Participants will be asked to inhale and exhale in the testing devices when their nose is closed with plastic clip. This test lasts about one hour.

Respiratory Motor Control Assessment: Participants will repeat the pulmonary function test sitting in a special hospital bed and lying on their back while we are recording the electrical impulses from their neck, chest, arms, legs, abdomen and back by placing adhesive sensors over their muscles and heart. These impulses supply us with information about how muscles are contracting. We will also record how the chest and abdomen are moving by placing elastic belts around the chest and abdomen. We will also record blood pressure using a finger cuff. This test lasts about three hours.

Orthostatic Stress Test: Using the same as above methods, we will be measuring your blood pressure, heart rate and your chest and abdomen movements while lying down on your back and when the position is suddenly changed to sitting. This test will last about two hours.

Orthostatic Stress Test with blood draw: During the above described test, licensed personnel will take the blood samples (approximately 4 tablespoons) from a small catheter inserted in your vein in the arm. This test will last about two hours.

Maximal Oxygen Consumption: This test is performed to determine the amount of oxygen your body uses during exercise. You will not be allowed to perform any moderate or heavy exercise for 12 hours before you have the test. We will ask you to breathe through a mouth piece face mask that covers your nose and mouth when performing aerobic exercises on special equipment adapted for people with spinal cord injury. Depending on your spinal cord injury, you will be asked to perform on either: Arm crank ergometer (while remaining in your wheelchair), Treadmill with body weight support for standing/stepping, or Seated stepper with push-pull arm movements (you will be transferred to the equipment). We will monitor your heart and blood pressure before, during and after exercise. This test will last approximately one hour.

Resting Metabolic Rate: This test will measure your metabolic activity at rest. You will be asked to fast for 10-12 hours before this test and refrain from exercise prior to the testing that morning. You will be asked to lie down on a bed on your back quietly for around 45 minutes. A plastic canopy hood will be placed over your head and shoulders to contain the air you are breathing. We will measure the gases in the air you exhale to test how much energy your body uses at rest. The test will last approximately one hour.

Transcranial Doppler: We will place a head set with ultrasound sensors attached on the top of your head. The sensor probes will touch the temples on either side of your head. We will add a small amount of ultrasound gel to each sensor for better reading accuracy. We will adjust the sensors until the chosen arteries are viewable on the computer screen. We will then ask you to close your eyes and rest quietly or read the printed text. When the test begins you will hear an alarm signaling you to open your eyes and view a slide on the computer screen. The next alarm will be your signal to once again close your eyes and rest quietly. This will be repeated until all of the slides are viewed. This test will take about an hour to complete. We may also ask to record TCD blood flow parameters during the previously described Orthostatic Stress test and/or during a portion of the RMCA.

Pulse Wave: We will perform assessments to measure your heart and blood vessel structure and function as well as arterial muscle properties using ultrasound, light, and pressure detecting technology. The tests are performed for approximately one hour each while you are lying on your back, on your side and while you are seated. We will be looking to test your cardiac structure and function, arterial structure, and arterial stiffness. The purpose of the exam is NOT to assess overall cardiovascular health or to diagnose unknown diseases. However, if abnormalities that may put your health at risk are observed, we may report these findings to our study physician. In addition, the University of Louisville and Frazier Rehab Research Team(s) will not be held liable for undiscovered cardiovascular health issues present at the time of the exam.

24 Hour Automatic Blood Pressure Monitoring: We will use a small recording device to record your blood pressure over a period of 24 hours outside of the lab. You will be asked to wear this device on your arm throughout the day and while performing your normal daily activities.