Balance Disorders Laboratory

Dr. Horak studies neurological disorders that effect balance and gait in the elderly, people with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebellar ataxia, vestibular injury or disease, diabetic neuropathy, and back pain. View video about Dr. Horak's work

Fay B. Horak, Ph.D.

fay Horak, Ph.D.

503 418-2602 (main lab)
503 704-3988 (cell)


BS Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin, 1973
MS Neurophysiology, University of Minnesota, 1977
PhD Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, 1982

Recent Awards

  • One of the most cited articles over the last 125 years by the American Physiological Society for 2012: Horak FB, Nashner LM. Central programming of postural movements - adaptation to altered support-surface configurations. Journal of Neurophysiology. 55: 1369-1381, 1986.
  • OHSU Technology Innovation Award/Patent 7.867.140 for 2012
  • National Translational Neurology Researcher Award, awarded by the Neurology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association for 2011

Professor of Neurology

Department of Neurology
Department of Biomedical Engineering (profile)
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Faculty Member

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Honorary Faculty

University of Oregon
Pacific University
University of Calgary
University of Waterloo


Training Opportunities

I welcome students and postdocs with clinical, engineering, neuroscience, psychology or kinesiology background to join my lab in one of three routes:

Grants (Current)

  • NIH, National Institute of Aging: Peripheral and Central Postural Disorders in the Elderly (1989-2014)
  • Underrepresented Diversity Supplement Program of the NIA (2004-2014)
  • NIH STTR: A Short Instrumented Test of Mobility for Neurological Disorders (2012-2014)
  • NIH STTR: Continuous Monitoring of Turning in Patients with Parkinson's Disease
  • Kinetics Foundation: Instrumented Balance and Gait Measures to Evaluate Effects of DBS Surgery (2011-2012)
  • The Parkinson Alliance: Instrumented Balance and Gait to Improve Mobility Outcomes for DBS (2011-2012)
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Rehabilitation Research Training in Postural Control of Multiple Sclerosis

Research Interests


Patient using audio biofeedback to improve balance.
Dozza, M., Wall, C., Peterka, R., Chiari L., Horak, F.B. Effects of practicing tandem gait with and without vibrotactile biofeedback in subjects with unilateral vestibular loss. Journal of Vestibular Research 17:195-204, 2007. PMCID: PMC2474458

Dr. Horak examines how motor signals sent to muscles and sensory information about body position interact to maintain a person's balance while standing or walking. Diseases or injury that damage the motor (e.g. Parkinson's disease) or sensory (e.g., vestibular injury, diabetic peripheral neuropathy) pathways can disrupt balance. In the Balance Disorders Laboratory a person's balance is tested by having him/her stand on a movable force platform during a surface perturbation (simulated fall). Muscle activities, surface forces, and whole body motion quantify how the brain coordinates automatic balancing movements.

The insights Dr. Horak has gained about the nervous system has allowed her to develop innovative approaches to the diagnosis and rehabilitation of patients with disequilibrium, dizziness, and dyscoordination. Her work has revolutionized the rehabilitation of balance disorders by physical therapists.

PubMed Listing