Physical Therapy Research
The faculty and students in the Department of Physical Therapy engage in a variety of research. Learn more about the Physical Therapy research areas below.
Habilitation and rehabilitation intervention
This is a study of elements of care used to enhance, maintain, and restore quality of life and functional ability for individual with physical neurological impairments and/or disabilities. Examination of actions are taken to facilitate acquisition, maintenance, restoration, or improvement in an individual's health, functional abilities, and/or quality of life.
Arthro- and osteokinematics
Research examining the artho- and osteokinematics focuses on the gross movements that occur at the articulating surface of a joint and the various planes of motion in which bones move in space.
Complementary and alternative medicine
Research in this area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) involves the examination of products such as herbal medicines and holistic manipulative practices which are not part of standard Western medicine practices.
Research involving rehabilitation assessment includes the examination of measurements used for detecting impairments(s) on an individual's health, functional abilities, and/or quality of life.
Research involves testing and validation of assistive devices used by individuals to improve or compensate for impaired motor functions. One of the studies will test feasibility of using the NewGait rehabilitative device in patients with gait impairments due to stroke or Parkinson's Disease.
- Enhanced arm swing alters interlimb coordination during overground walking in individuals with traumatic brain injury. Ustinova KI, Langenderfer JE, Balendra N. Hum Mov Sci. 2017 Apr; 52:45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2017.01.001
Validation of patient safety equipment involves testing feasibility and usefulness of tools and equipment, used by physical therapists in rehabilitation practice. Recent studies have focused on exploring of advantage of using of assistive mobility technology, such as mechanical floor-based lifting device over manual assistance by physical therapist.
Research involving the development of rehabilitation technology is directed at the examination of tools and equipment that may be useful in enhancing an individual's health, the performance of functional tasks, and/or quality of life. Recent studies have focused on postural perturbations in a virtual environment with patients diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Research involving human development focuses on factors that influence infant and child movement strategies. Recent studies that have examined influence of the home environment on locomotor acquisition, muscle activation patterns in infants learning to walk, and impact of wearing external support garmets on gait parameters.
Research involving motion analysis incorporates computer generated image processing from high-speed cameras and video. Many of our motion analysis research includes the integration of electromyography and force plates to examine kinematics and kinetic movement patterns.
Motor control and learning
Research in the area of motor control and learning includes the investigation of patients from various clinical populations. This includes patients who have been diagnosed with specific movement disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and those who have Parkinson's disease, autism, or have experienced a stroke.
Research involving sensorimotor integration encompasses the accumulation of sensory input from multiple sensory modalities. This includes but is not limited to, somatosensory stimulation, and visual and vestibular input. The goal of this research in this area of study is to specifically evaluate movement strategies of the body within a controlled environment.
Educational research in physical therapy
Research involves experiential learning that impacts students' self-efficacy and skill development, including critical thinking, communication and professional behaviors. This research also involves partnerships with community members including activities that benefit social, mental, and physical well-being in rural areas. Includes activities such as domestic and international service learning, community outreach programs, and embedded classroom partnerships.