Sr. Research Associate: Patty Carlson-Kuhta
I received my PhD in Physiological Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA in the Neuropsychiatric Institute. I have studied the sensorimotor control of stereotyped limb movements and brain plasticity during development following cortical lesions. My current research focuses on posture and gait deficits in people with Parkinson’s disease; specifically looking at how Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s disease affects balance, and the use of wearable motion sensors to quantify movement deficits.
Postdoctoral Researcher: Brett Fling
Dr. Fling received his PhD in neuromotor control from the University of Michigan in 2011. Brett is currently investigating MS-related declines in proprioceptive control of upright stance. These projects use behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to characterize functional neural activation and connectivity in central proprioceptive pathways in patients with MS. These studies aim to determine whether alterations in proprioceptive neural networks underlie balance deficits in MS. Brett is also investigating the neural bases underlying freezing of gait in PD. These projects use structural and functional neuroimaging with an emphasis on determining the extent to which frontal lobe problems are important rehabilitation considerations for mobility disability.
The long-term objectives of Brett’s research are to: 1) understand how the healthy brain integrates sensorimotor information to control goal-directed, voluntary movement of the upper extremities and how this control changes with advancing age, 2) better understand the role proprioceptive feedback plays in balance control, and 3) develop strategies that promote neural plasticity and functional recovery subsequent to aging and/or disease, with an emphasis on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
Dr. Laurie King is currently an assistant professor in the department of Neurology. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, in Anatomy and Neurobiology. Prior to that, she graduated from Mayo School of Heath Sciences in Rochester MN with a Masters in Physical Therapy. She has over 15 years clinical experience treating neurologically impaired patients. Her work as a post-doctoral fellow at OHSU led to the development of an agility-based sensory motor exercise program for Parkinson's disease and she is currently coordinating a clinical trial comparing two, evidence-based rehabilitation programs for Parkinson's disease. Additionally, she has expertise in using sensitive technology, such as gait analysis, motion analysis, dynamic posturography and inertial sensors, for assessment and quantification of mobility. Dr. King has 2 active and funded lines of research; one in the area of exercise and Parkinson's disease and the other in the area of traumatic brain injury and balance assessment.
Ph.D. Student: Julia Marshall Leach
Julia received her BS in Engineering and BA in Psychology from Gonzaga University in 2010. She is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at OHSU’s School of Medicine. Julia is a Ph.D. candidate for the class of 2015. She is working with her mentors, Fay Horak (Neurology, Balance Disorders Laboratory) and Tamara Hayes (Biomedical Engineering, Point of Care Laboratory), to study the relationships between postural control, cognition, and falls in elders with Mild Cognitive Impairment. She is particularly interested in the associations between motor and cognitive decline in our aging population.
Postdoctoral Researcher: Martina Mancini
Dr Mancini received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Italy in 2009. She joined Balance Disorders Lab in July 2010 as a post-doctoral fellow, and she is currently working on development and validation of algorithms to analyze posture and postural transitions by means of wearable inertial sensors, with a particular focus on Parkinson’s disease.
Actually, her goals are in understanding how balance deteriorates with disease progression, and how balance is influenced by medications and deep brain stimulation. Also, she is interested in understanding if posture and postural transition are possible predictors of falls in normal aging as well as in Parkinson’s disease.
Neurologist: Amie Peterson
Amie Peterson, MD is currently a fellow in movement disorders focused on the care of Parkinson’s patients and related disorders. Her current research project is looking at the relationship between vitamin D levels and balance in persons with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Peterson is also involved in advocacy work at a local and national level.
Postdoctoral Researcher: Carolin Curtze
Carolin joined the Balance Disorders Lab in 2012 as a postdoctoral fellow. Prior to that, she worked on her PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. In her dissertation she studied the neuromechanics of movement in lower limb amputees. Carolin’s current research focuses on posture and gait deficits in people with Parkinson’s disease. The emphasis of her work is on the development and validation of algorithms to analyze posture and gait by means of wearable inertial sensors. Her long-term goal is to gain more insight into the adaptability and plasticity of the human motor system.
Postdoctoral Researcher: Beth Smith
Beth A. Smith received her DPT degree from Boston University and worked as a PT at University of Michigan Hospital before obtaining her PhD in the Developmental Neuromotor Control Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan. Beth’s dissertation focused on control strategies for gait across the lifespan in persons with Down syndrome, and how variability in gait patterns relates to stability of walking from a nonlinear perspective. She is interested in how developmental and aging processes interact with atypical sensor-motor systems and disease processes like PD to lead to unique movement patterns, and how and when PT’s can best intervene to promote maximal function.