Prof. Carolee Winstein at Hunimed: how to develop a personalized rehabilitation approach

Professor Carolee Winstein has started her physiotherapy and research activity after the doctoral degree gained in 1988. Right now she is Full Professor of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Furthermore, as Director of Motor Behaviour and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, she supervises the interdisciplinary research program devoted to neurorehabilitation of the same University and she is considered one of the main expert of neurophysiology of the motor control and of rehabilitation after injuries to the central nervous system, in particular in stroke patients.


“From Research to clinical practice: How to develop a personalized rehabilitation approach”

As guest lecturer at Humanitas University, her speech was focused on several barriers that professionals need to overcome. The first one is the translation barrier. The animal model cannot be applied directly to the human model even if it is very compelling. The neurorehabilitation practitioners need to understand deeply the human condition and patients’ needs after injuries to the central nervous system. Indeed the key factor for the treatment is not the total number of trials practiced but their contest in a more patient-centric perspective.

This perspective is the second point outlined by Professor Carolee Winstein. The evaluation of the trials and the treatments should be based not only on variables called objectives. In neurorehabilitation, these can be used to evaluate someone’s performance, to measure the strenght and the movements but they ignore patients’ perceptions of the problems and the effects. Instead, in other fields, as for instance oncology, the patients reported outcomes are very important for determining the type of intervention. Indeed, only the patient is able to clearly evaluate and explain his quality of life, his fatigue level and other fundamental parameters. The medical care should be based on these important outcomes. Considering the actual neurorehabilitation approach, Professor Carolee Winstein has stressed the importance of “stealing” these patients reported outcomes from other fields and apply these in neurorehabilitation therapies.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.