Meet our Faculty

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James R. Carey, PhD, PT, FAPTA
Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-2746
carey007@umn.edu

Research Interests: 

Dr. Carey’s research studies involve the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to promote higher recovery of hand function in people with stroke. rTMS is a painless, noninvasive way to improve the excitability neurons in the brain that have survived a stroke. Previous work has been done in the laboratory setting on adults and children with chronic stroke. A new project is exploring the use of rTMS combined with conventional therapy in acute stroke at a nearby major rehabilitation center. Another current project is comparing the parameters of rTMS (primed vs. unprimed) in adult stroke. The long-term goal of this research is to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of rTMS in stroke so that rTMS can eventually become part of mainstream rehabilitation procedures.

More information on the Brain Plasticity Lab can be found at: http://bpl.umn.edu.

Please note: Dr. Carey is no longer taking new students. Dr. Carey is scheduled to retire in the Spring of 2017

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Arin M. Ellingson, PhD
Assistant Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-625-1471
ellin224@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Ellingson’s primary research focus is to detect biomechanical and imaging based biomarkers of spinal health. The diverse causes of back and neck pain lead to difficulties in differential diagnosis, hindering patient-specific individualized treatment. Dr. Ellingson’s multifaceted research strategy aims to overcome these limitations by identifying aberrant spinal motion patterns, quantifying intervertebral disc pathology, and isolating neuromuscular responses to pain. Ultimately, by integrating these approaches he strives to assess and enhance an individual’s functional ability in an effort to improve their quality of life.

More information on the Minnesota Rehabilitation Biomechanics Lab can be found at: http://www.med.umn.edu/physther/research/mrbl/

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Bernadette T. Gillick, PhD, MSPT, PT
Assistant Professor

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

612-626-3121
gillick@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Gillick's research is dedicated to investigating cortical plasticity and recovery from neurologic insult in both adult and pediatric populations. Her research encompasses the use of non-invasive brain stimulation, in combination with behavioral training, for improved motor function. Current grants support investigation of the use of non-invasive brain stimulation with and without the combination of constraint-induced therapy in children with stroke and resultant hemiparesis. Neuroimaging and neuronavigation allows advanced understanding of the reorganization and structure of the brain which survived the stroke, and the influence of interventions on neurorecovery.

More information on Dr. Gillick's Pediatric Research and Current Studies can be found at:
www.physther.umn.edu/research/gillicklab

More information on the Brain Plasticity Lab can be found at: http://bpl.umn.edu.

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Andrew Hansen, PhD
Associate Professor

Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Science

ahhansen@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Hansen conducts research in the areas of human biomechanics, prosthetics and orthotics, and rehabiliation engineering. Dr. Hansen is currently designing prosthetic ankle-foot systems that can adapt to sloped surfaces on every step of walking as well as ankle-foot systems that provide enhanced stability during standing tasks. Other areas of research for Dr. Hansen include development and evaluation of footwear, development and evaluation of wheelchair technologies, and development of exercise equipment for persons with disabilities.

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Manda L. Keller-Ross, PhD, DPT, PT
Assistant Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-625-3175
kell0529@umn.edu

Research Interests:

The Cardiovascular Research and Rehabilitation Laboratory (CRRL) has a primary interest to investigate limitations in 1) human performance in healthy individuals and 2) exercise intolerance in those with cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. In addition, we aim to develop novel treatment strategies to improve cardiorespiratory regulation during exercise.

The CRRL uses a multi-system approach as limitations to exercise are dependent on health and training status, exercise type and intensity and age of the individual.The interaction of systems is important for optimal exercise and activity performance. Our Laboratory uses several techniques to quantify heart, lung and skeletal muscle function (i.e. gas exchange, open-circuit acetylene wash-in for cardiac output, non-invasive blood flow measurements, and skeletal muscle strength and fatigue measurements) in healthy individuals and patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Because of the disease progression in these patients, they develop skeletal muscle myopathies that limit exercise performance and can contribute to sensations of dyspnea, fatigue and ultimately exercise intolerance. We aim to delineate mechanisms of limitations to exercise and identify optimal treatment strategies to improve exercise and functional capacity and quality of life in clinical populations.

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Teresa J. Kimberley, PhD, PT
Associate Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-4096
tjk@umn.edu

Research Interests: 

Dr. Kimberley's overarching scientific interest is the neuroplasticity of the brain and how this capability can be used to promote recovery in stroke or contribute to the disease or recovery of focal dystonia. The current research agenda is to (1) refine technologies to best study neuroplastic processes in patients with stroke and focal dystonia (2) understand both the beneficial and maladaptive neuroplastic processes of the brain, and (3) develop unique rehabilitation interventions in those populations based upon neurophysiologic evidence.

More information on the Brain Plasticity Lab can be found at: http://bpl.umn.edu.

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Wynn Legon, PhD
Assistant Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-1183
wlegon@umn.edu

Research Interests:

I am primarily interested in developing and advancing transcranial focused ultrasound for non-surgical neuromodulation in humans. My current research investigates combining tFUS with MRI as well as developing tFUS for stimulation of sub-cortical structures. The ultimate goal of this research is to translate these findings to clinical populations for therapeutic use. In addition, I also conduct research using conventional non-invasive neuromodulatory technologies like TMS and tD/ACS. This research looks at the effect of individual gyral anatomy on electric fields to advance subject-specific neuromodulation. Finally, I have a particular interest in the frontal cortex and how modulation of frontal areas through either disease, age or neuromodulation affect both local and downstream neuronal circuits and ultimately behavior. This research uses a multidisciplinary approach including neuromodulatory techniques TMS, tDCS and tFUS in combination with EEG, evoked potential, fMRI as well as computational methods including finite element modelling (FEM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM).

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Dawn A. Lowe, PhD
Associate Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-3344
lowex017@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Research interests include muscle physiology, aging, muscular dystrophy, and exercise science. The focus of this research is cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle deterioration that occur with age, injury, and disease. Current studies are also aimed at preventing or reversing this muscle deterioration through exercise and pharmacological interventions.

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Paula M. Ludewig, PhD, PT
Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-0420
ludew001@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Ludewig’s objective is to investigate biomechanical factors contributing to musculoskeletal dysfunction, in order to refine current clinical diagnosis and treatment approaches and develop novel scientifically founded rehabilitation interventions. The current research plan includes development and testing the effectiveness of biomechanically based rehabilitation strategies for improving shoulder function and reducing pain and disability in persons with pathologies related to abnormal movement patterns. Currently, in-vivo 3D motion and muscle activity data is collected from healthy and symptomatic subjects and integrated with state of the art shoulder models derived from imaging data. Dr. Ludewig’s past and ongoing work is identifying mechanics of the full shoulder complex, identifying kinematic mechanisms of shoulder and foot dysfunction, quantifying effects of motion deviations on mechanical impingement risk to the rotator cuff tendons, and assessing the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions including exercise programs. Student researchers under Dr. Ludewig’s direction would be actively engaged in these research activities throughout their academic process. Initially they would contribute to ongoing projects assisting with data collection, analysis and learning methodology. Subsequently they would progress to contributing to writing and editing of manuscripts and supervision of professional student group research projects in the lab. Their dissertation work would be a question they derive and take ownership of as their specific contribution related to the ongoing research in the lab, thus progressing them toward a role as independent investigators.

More information on the Minnesota Rehabilitation Biomechanics Lab can be found at: http://www.med.umn.edu/physther/research/mrbl/

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Peggy M. Martin, PhD, OTR/L (OT)
Program Director

Occupational Therapy Program

877-334-2659
cahpinfo@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Martin’s research interests include cultural competency, adult education, clinical reasoning, development of expertise, childhood and disability, movement analysis, sensory integration, and substance use screening. She teaches Descriptive Neurology, Pediatric Neurorehabilitation, Neuroanatomy, and Occupational Therapy and Society. Her practice includes the rehabilitation of childhood disorders in all practice settings including community-based school, oupatient, and inpatient medical settings; management; program development; and human resource development.

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Virgil G. Mathiowetz, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA (O
Associate Professor

 Program in Occupational Therapy

612-626-3759
mathi003@umn.edu

Research Interests

Broadly, Dr. Mathiowetz's research explores the outcomes of occupational therapy interventions for persons with physical disabilities. His most recent research explored the effectiveness of a group energy conservation course on persons with multiple sclerosis and other chronic conditions. A group of his master's graduate students are currently doing a survey of clinicians on the perceived effectiveness of group versus individual format of this course. We are exploring a potential study of the individual format of the course and/or the comparison study of the two formats. There are numerous questions that could be pursued related specifically to this course or fatigue managment in general. Dr. Mathiowetz's past and current doctoral students are exploring the functional outcomes of the OT Task-Oriented Approach for persons post-stroke. In addition, his past research has included the development and refinement of outcome measures used in rehabilitation (e.g., grip & pinch strength assessment, dexterity and hand function tests, and fatigue impact scale). Another doctoral student is exploring the forces involved in functional activities such as opening a jar. There is a need for continued studies in this area as well.

Please note: Dr. Mathiowetz is no longer taking new students. Dr. Mathiowetz is in phased retirement

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Corey W. McGee, PhD, MS, OTR/L, CHT
Assistant Professor

 Program in Occupational Therapy

507-258-8016
mcge0062@umn.edu

Research Interests:

The broad objectives of Dr. McGee’s clinical research are to improve the upper limb health and activity level of persons with acquired and congenital upper limb disorders, to inform rehabilitation therapists and surgeons on best practice assessment and interventions for persons of these populations, and to establish the psychometric properties and reference values for assessments used to measure upper limb disability and health. In addition, as an educator of entry-level and post-professional occupational therapy learners, Dr. McGee’s scholarship of teaching and learning objectives are to test the impact of didactic training on learner self-efficacy.

Dr. McGee’s most recent research has focused on quantifying the hand force requirements for engaging in a commonly problematic daily activity for persons with hand osteoarthritis, opening sealed containers; testing the validity of the force reducing benefits of joint protection training for persons with hand osteoarthritis; testing the psychometrics of hand-held myometry for the intrinsic hand muscles; gathering normative data on intrinsic hand Myometry; and testing the mechanics of hand muscles targeted in exercise for thumb osteoarthritis via fluoroscopy. Dr. McGee is also actively testing the impact of educational training, particularly acute care simulation, on entry-level occupational therapy student self-efficacy.

More information on Dr. McGee's scholarship can be found at: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Corey_Mcgee

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Michael Potegal, PhD, LP
Associate Professor

 Program in Occupational Therapy

612-625-6964
poteg001@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Prof. Mike Potegal is working on two projects that involve vestibular function. The first is a study of post-rotary nystagmus (PRN) as typically measured by occupational therapists. We have already determined that it is not a general measure of vestibular function because the duration of PRN is uncorrelated with the ability to balance in healthy young adults. However, some preliminary data suggest that PRN duration might correlate with a person’s ability to use vestibular input to guide their navigation through space (topographic orientation). This possibility is being pursued with a task in which seated, blindfolded subjects estimate the angles through which they have been rotated. Such estimates require the integration (in the mathematical sense) of the signal from the semicircular canals. Performance on this task is being compared to estimation of linear transport in a wheelchair, which does not involve the canals.

The second line of research is on a condition identified by OTs as “gravitational insecurity.” Children with gravitational insecurity have difficulty walking on uneven or unstable surfaces such as rocky ground, beaches, even gym mats. They dislike lying on their backs, bending backward, being picked up, or being upside down. These children fear and avoid moving platforms like skates, cars, and escalators. This condition can be summarized as always wanting one’s feet on the ground; any threat to this stance elicits intense fear. Detailed internet narratives by adults self-identified with gravitational insecurity present a consistent picture of an early-starting, life-long condition. Our current nation-wide survey of pediatric OTs’ experience with gravitational insecurity is assessing diagnostic signs, demographic characteristics, typically comorbid conditions, treatment types and success rates for gravitational insecurity as seen in the OT clinic. With 70 surveys completed findings include a very high rate of abnormal eye movements. This feature has not been previously described and suggests that there is indeed a vestibular problem.

The physiological substrate linking the two lines of research is the vestibular “velocity storage” integrator in the brainstem. The time constant of this integrator determines the duration of PRN. We hypothesize that the pathogenesis of gravitational insecurity is an abnormal prolongation of the integrator time constant that makes the vestibular signal unstable and unreliable. Tests of this hypothesis are being planned.


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Patricia L. Schaber, PhD, ORT/L, FAOTA
Associate Professor

 Program in Occupational Therapy

612-626-5111
schab002@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Schaber has studied clinical, standardized assessment of cognition as it relates to occupational performance in individuals with neurocognitive disorders. As the occupational therapy research coordinator in the University of Minnesota Health Center Memory Clinic, she has conducted research on measurement of effects of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias on everyday activities. Topics include effects of cognitive-functional performance on instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), home management, and leisure engagement. She has developed a brief, clinical intervention which is being implemented but has not been tested to date for clients with early stage memory loss. A second line of research is in program development and evaluation in community based memory care. She has developed and tested a model, Older Adult Recreational Systems (OARS), to rate quality of life in adult day service programs. The model is intended for formative and summative evaluation of occupation-based activity programs. She collaborates with community agencies, specifically St. Therese at Oxbow Lake and Wilder Adult Day Center. Rehab Science students would select the clinical setting or community setting to conduct research with individuals with memory loss. Dr. Schaber has skills in the scholarship of teaching and learning in hybrid educational platforms. A student would be encouraged to take on a teaching assistance positition to train and teach in this approach to entry-level occupational therapy education.

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LeAnn M. Snow, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-626-5782
snow0018@umn.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Snow’s research focuses on the Effects of exercise on nerve and muscle function in neuromuscular disorders such as diabetes. Her teaching responsibilities include Age, Exercise, and Rehab; the Biology of Aging, and Research within the Physical Therapy curriculum.

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Ann L. Van de Winckel, PhD, MSc, PT
Assistant Professor

Program in Physical Therapy

612-625-1191
avandewi@umn.edu

Research Interests:

The primary goal of my research agenda is to understand the neural mechanisms of neuroplasticity and recovery after stroke through the use of fMRI, structural and functional connectivity, to determine its impact on clinical sensorimotor outcomes. Further, to translate these findings to therapeutic interventions aimed at sensorimotor recovery.

Specifically, current interests are to elucidate the impact of stroke on specific brain areas (insula and cerebellum) and its connections, with relation to body awareness and motor imagery, and how rehabilitation treatments can trigger neuroplasticity in these brain areas and associated brain connections. Additionally, to investigate the interactions between the psychological factors and physical impairments (mind-brain-body interactions), and implement rehabilitation strategies which attend to these factors to increase recovery after brain injury.

More information on the Brain Plasticity Lab can be found at http://bpl.umn.edu.

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