School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Associate Director in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
106 Atwell Hall
453 W. 10th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
Research Interests: My research focuses on the recovery of motor function after central nervous system (CNS) injury. A critical component of this research is the assessment of normal and aberrant behavior and the analysis of how structures within the CNS respond to injury and contribute to recovery. I aim to:
1) Develop more sensitive behavioral assessment techniques
I have developed new analytical approaches for several traditional behavioral tests which enabled detection of differences in the rate and extent of recovery after mild and moderate spinal cord contusion (SCI). To date, my major contribution to the field of spinal cord injury research was the development of a gross behavioral assessment tool for locomotion, the Basso Beattie Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale, which has become the tool of choice by SCI researchers around the world. Given the impact of the BBB scale, I have developed a new locomotor assessment scale for mice with spinal cord injury, which is used by the Spinal Cord Injury Consortium of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
2) Identify the contribution of specific neural components to motor performance within the normal and lesioned CNS
Spinal cord contusion usually results in a central core lesion surrounded by spared neural tissue. The spared descending brainstem and spinal cord systems are responsible for locomotor recovery in rats, and recovery in the presence of only a few spared axons (less than 2%) significantly contributes to reorganization of spinal systems below the level of the lesion. Therefore, a major focus of my research is to identify the source, number, trajectory and terminations of spared axonal fibers that serve as substrates for functional recovery.
I am also examining which descending systems are most susceptible to SCI, which pathways are the primary mediators of recovery of function, and which tracts respond to specific exercise training strategies to promote robust recovery. We are also interested in determining the parameters of exercise training that induce the greatest amount of locomotor recovery in rats after moderate SCI. We are identifying the mechanisms and efficacy of therapeutic intervention on muscle, peripheral nerve and spinal cord after traumatic SCI. Because many interventions used in animals with SCI are also effective in humans with SCI, this animal-based research can serve as a foundation for therapeutic clinical trials.
3) Develop new therapeutic approaches to enhance functional recovery after CNS injury
As a physical therapist, an integral part of my work is establishing and evaluating treatment interventions after CNS injury. I helped to set up a body weight support treadmill training laboratory at OSU for patients with SCI, which participated in the first multicenter clinical trial in the history of neurorehabilitation which focused on this type of training after acute SCI.
Physical Therapy (BS), University of Utah, 1984
Motor Learning (MA), Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1986
Motor Learning (EdD), Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1991