Balance Disorders Laboratory

Patient performing turning exercise intervention
Research participant completing an exercise protocol in the lab.

The Balance Disorders Laboratory 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, multiple sclerosis, mTBI) pathways can disrupt balance. In addition to studying how balance control is disrupted, our laboratory is utilizing novel balance training interventions along with state-of-the-art brain imaging (e.g. MRI, fNIRS) to determine rehabilitation efficacy in clinical populations.

The Balance Disorders Laboratory's current studies are relating the brain’s postural/locomotor circuits to objective measures of balance and gait disorders in people with neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and mild Traumatic Brain Injury as well as older population. These projects will improve our understanding of the role of the cortical and subcortical areas in balance and gait and how cognitive impairments relate to postural disorders with the goal of improving mobility rehabilitation in the elderly.

One of the long-term goals of the laboratory is to develop effective rehabilitation approaches to improve balance and gait in people with neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Clarifying the relationships between gait and balance deficits and frontal lobe deficits as well as central sensorimotor integration deficits is an important focus of our research.

The Balance Disorders Laboratory is at the forefront of developing and implementing objective measures to quantify balance deficits in people with neurological disorders. Our team was among the first to demonstrate the feasibility of using wearable sensors to quantify gait and turning characteristics during daily life and in people’s natural environments. The impact of this work continues to expand. During the COVID-19 period, our lab actively enrolled new participants to our studies and provided rehabilitation treatment opportunities despite most in-person research being either limited or prohibited. 

Training opportunities

We welcome students with backgrounds in clinical research, engineering, neuroscience, psychology or kinesiology to join the lab through one of three routes:

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program

Postdoctoral fellows should contact lab faculty directly to inquire about positions. We also have volunteer opportunities.

For questions, contact us at balance@ohsu.edu.