Through his research focused on understanding physiologic systems as complex systems, bioengineering professor Kenneth McLeod looks for ways to diagnose, prevent and treat chronic conditions that represent major challenges in modern health care, including pain management, musculo-skeletal injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis and chronic heart failure.
McLeod has developed technologies that have been commercialized for the treatment of pain, and to assist in the rehabilitation and prevention of musculoskeletal injury. For more details, visit www.BielCorp.com or www.Sonostics.com.
To understand much of his recent work, one must realize that the body contains two hearts. The primary heart in the chest is responsible for pumping blood out to the body, but the lesser-known, second heart — the soleus muscle in the back part of the leg’s calf — is what pumps the blood back.
“And just like your cardiac muscle can fail, the muscles in your leg can fail,” McLeod says. “And when they fail, there are numerous complications, one of which is your blood pressure drops.” This creates chronic low blood pressure, called hypotension, which is linked to many of the common chronic diseases associated with aging.
McLeod’s lab developed technology that serves to enhance second heart activity, “just like you put a pace maker into a person to prevent them from having a heart attack,” McLeod says. “In the same way, we can pace the second heart.”