When Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital conducts research, it’s not only for the future benefit of science and medicine. Our team is dedicated to generating evidence-based, innovative treatment and applying it as quickly as possible to help people recovering from serious injuries or illnesses.

The research efforts of our doctors, therapists, nurses and other professionals often lead to discoveries with a timely and positive impact for our patients. Research is done with the conviction it will help restore hope and freedom for children and adults with physical disabilities.

Mary Free Bed has created an infrastructure through the John F. Butzer Center for Research & Innovation to support our physicians and staff with research endeavors and to facilitate scholarly activity. Our efforts include original research, participation in multicenter studies and sponsored clinical trials.

Study inquires or requests
Call: 616.840.8985

Current Studies

Active recruitment opportunities include:

Sleep for Stroke Management and Recovery Trial (Sleep SMART)
Mary Free Bed is participating in the Stroke Net study Sleep SMART. This 110-site study randomizes participates who have sleep apnea to test whether treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is effective for secondary prevention and recovery after stroke. Eligible participants must be referred from acute care and receiving inpatient therapeutic services for a stroke diagnosis. For more information, click here.

Principal Investigator: Devin L. Brown, M.D., MS

Bone Health Biobank
Researchers are collecting saliva samples from Mary Free Bed patients who have a bone health diagnosis. Genetic mapping will be done to assess relationships with specific gene profiles and diagnoses. Results may contribute to changes in clinical practice and treatment of diagnoses, such as osteoarthritis and osteopenia. Eligible participants must have a bone-related diagnosis and be treated at Mary Free Bed.

Principal Investigator: Teri Holwerda, NP

Defining Trajectories of Linguistic, Cognitive-Communicative and Quality of Life Outcomes in Aphasia
The objective of this study is to describe the trajectories of linguistic, cognitive-communicative and health-related quality of life outcomes following stroke in people with aphasia during inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation to 18 months following their stroke. A sample of 300 consecutively admitted stroke patients with aphasia recruited at three Midwest rehabilitation hospitals will complete measures of linguistic and cognitive-communicative performance and the Quality of Life Neurological Disorders Measurement instruments during rehabilitation and at three-, six-, 12- and 18-months post stroke. We will model outcomes as individual and group trajectories, allowing us to develop individual predictions that could inform clinical planning and decision-making for new patients. For more information, click here.

Principal Investigators: Leora Cherney, Ph.D. (Shirley Ryan AbilityLab); Allen Heinemann, Ph.D. (Shirley Ryan AbilityLab); Allan Kozlowski, Ph.D. (Mary Free Bed)

Patient Population Assessment and Functional Outcome Measure of Post Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility

Researchers at Mary Free Bed are mapping out and describing the functional outcome status of people whose primary inpatient diagnosis is COVID-19. Outcome data will be collected for up to six months post discharge. Eligible participants must be enrolled from inpatient rehabilitation.

Principal Investigator: Kyle Josephson, M.D.

Interluekin-1 Family Members in COVID-19
Researchers will be collecting blood samples from Mary Free Bed patients who have/had a COVID-19 diagnosis. The samples will be analyzed at Van Andel Institute and will assess the inflammatory response associated with cytokine family IL-1.

Principal Investigator: Temilola Abdul, M.D.

Post-Treatment Patient Survey Comparison of Mary Free Bed Outpatient Therapy
Mary Free Bed is looking to compare results from different satisfaction surveys provided to those patients in Outpatient Therapy. These results will help make decisions when it comes to measuring post-contact patient response.

Principal Investigator: Allan Kozlowski, Ph.D.

Assessing the Predictive Value of 3-point Compression Portable Ultrasound Screening for Deep Vein Thrombosis at Admission to an Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a common medical complication for inpatient rehabilitation patients. Researchers will test 3 Point Compression Ultrasound Screening (3PCUS) against a standing validated DVT screening tool called the Caprini Risk Assessment. This will be a blinded study with 200 patients enrolled.

Principal Investigator: Kyle Josephson, M.D.

Utilizing Abdominal-Functional Electrical Stimulation Unit to Improve Respiratory Function of Spinal Cord Injury Patients in an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility – A Feasibility Study

Respiratory failure is the most common cause of hospital admissions and the primary cause of sickness and death in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. This increased danger is mainly due to the breathing muscles not being able to move, causing impaired cough in combination with poor breathing. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a non-invasive, low-cost intervention compared to traditional methods of artificial cough generation which can be cumbersome and expensive. Using a surface electrical stimulation has been shown to trigger muscle movement in paralyzed muscles, as well as, having lasting effects of muscle strengthening. The researcher would like to test the ability to complete this test as well as the how well it helps the patient.

Principal Investigator: Yunna Sinskey, M.D.

Paraspinal mapping at an outpatient rehabilitation medical clinic

The current paraspinal mapping (PSM) protocol uses acupuncture needles to feel around in the lower back and can be uncomfortable and unreliable. PSM is not used very often at Mary Free Bed due to these circumstances. The researchers wish to test the accuracy of the PSM protocol using pictures taken from ultrasounds from outpatient patients with low back pain.

Principal Investigator: John Rizik, D.O.


Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, in partnership with Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, has been awarded funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund under its Healthy Aging initiative.

The fund supports projects that improve access to care, allow Michigan residents to age in place and help communities build a culture of emotional support for older adults.

The Mary Free Bed project, titled MI-CHAP (Michigan Changes Healthy Aging Program) aims to evaluate an existing care navigation program to assess program success. The project also focuses on identifying areas for improvement for patients who are referred and discharged from Mary Free Bed following a stroke.

Patients enrolled in this program evaluation will work with care navigation specialists and researchers to rate their experience and to participate in a focus group on program enhancements. To learn more about this project, email

Institutional Review Board

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation operates its own Institutional Review Board (FWA: 00009374). For inquires regarding submission and approval, email

Learning Health System

Learning Health System LogoMary Free Bed is committed to becoming a Learning Health System, an organization that engages and includes all workforce members to improve clinical and administrative processes with the goal of creating beneficial outcomes for patients. Our goal is to have a fluid system for reporting, evaluating, trialing, engaging and implementing from all corners of the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network.

This iterative system will build on strengths already associated with Mary Free Bed: data warehouse, experienced and compassionate workforce, and engagement in the communities we serve.

To learn more, email

Students and Researchers

Medical students
The John F. Butzer Center for Research and Innovation works collaboratively with medical students to teach, empower and facilitate growth. Our studies incorporate the skills of medical students to assist with study outcomes and objectives.

• Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical students interested in participating in research at Mary Free Bed should contact MSU-CHM student research director Mark Trottier, Ph.D., at or 616.234.2781.
• Medical students who attend other schools and are interested in research opportunities at Mary Free Bed should email You also may contact our Education department at or 616.840.8292.

Research Education and Learning Health System Education modules are available on the Mary Free Bed Education Academy page here. These modules are intended to provide foundational knowledge related to conducting research and translating that research into practice.

Investigator Award
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital strives to contribute to new knowledge in rehabilitation and neuroscience through collaborative research and to translate the results into evidence-based guidelines for clinical practice.  The Mary Free Bed Investigator Award provides funding for up to $10,000. These funds are intended to provide protected release time for clinicians, finance participant stipends and cover travel and presentation costs. Investigator Awards will be granted following a merit-based, competitive process.  Examples of projects that may qualify include prospective research, archival/retrospective research, manuscript preparation from previously completed data collection or comprehensive review of literature and systematic outcomes analyses for Mary Free Bed equipment/program(s).



Mary Free Bed has the pleasure of serving patients and their families throughout the state of Michigan. To better meet the needs of our patients and the communities we serve, we developed a registry system to create efficient access to past and current patients who may be interested in or benefit from active research studies or quality improvement projects. If you’d like to be added to one of our registries, email with your name and contact information.

Our registries include:

  1. Spinal Cord Injury Registry
  2. Stroke Registry
  3. Traumatic Brain Injury Registry
  4. Pediatric Registry

Our Team

Charged with setting the strategic direction for clinical research that supports Mary Free Bed’s mission, the advisory council also identifies and builds key relationships with collaborators and other institutions that broaden and advance our ability to deliver cutting-edge treatment and care for patients.

Dr. Michael JakubowskiMichael Jakubowski, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Jakubowski has more than 40 years of clinical experience working in internal medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation. He transitioned from clinical care to serve as Mary Free Bed’s chief medical officer in 2014.

As chair of the Mary Free Bed Research Advisory council, Dr. Jakubowski works to ensure the most advanced rehabilitation techniques are available to patients and that outstanding quality is maintained. He’s a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan.

Craig WebbCraig Webb, Ph.D.
Craig is a life science executive and entrepreneur who has broad academic and industry expertise in basic and translational sciences with an emphasis on genomic medicine and drug discovery. He was a founding scientist and independent investigator at Van Andel Research Institute, director of Translational Medicine at VARI and chief scientific officer of NuMedii.

Craig also consults for a variety of organizations and companies that encompass the various stakeholders of “precision medicine,” including biotech, payers, venture capitalists and health care providers. Craig holds a doctorate in Cell Biology and Biochemistry from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K.

John F. ButzerJohn F. Butzer, M.D.
Research Director Emeritus
A fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Butzer served as chief medical officer at Mary Free Bed for 29 years. During his tenure, he also directed the Muscular Dystrophy Clinic and the Motion Analysis Center. Dr. Butzer stepped down from his duties as CMO in 2014 to form the Center for Research and Innovation. In 2014, the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine was initiated in Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine with Dr. Butzer as its director, a position he continues to hold. He’s also a clinical professor of medicine there.

Dr. Butzer’s work involves measuring value in rehabilitation and establishing a learning health system. He earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed his residency in neurology at the University of Iowa.

Center for Research & Innovation
Kelsey Boersma, M.P.H.
Project Manager, Center for Research + Innovation, Business Intelligence + Informatics

Rebecca Cistaro, M.S.
Director, Business Intelligence and Informatics

Jacob Cobb, B.S.
Research Assistant

Julia Craner Cooper, Ph.D.

Jennifer Dowsett, B.A.
Administrative Assistant

Allan J. Kozlowski, Ph.D.
Director, Outcomes Research

Spencer Pearson, B.S.
Research Assistant