Our group focuses on fall prevention and rehabilitation among healthy and pathological populations. Specifically, we are interested in four topics: mechanisms of falls; interventions for reducing falls; reductions of injuries due to falls and other medical conditions. We are grateful for the support from various funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, Genentech Inc., the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Retirement Research Foundation, Georgia State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the private donor. Listed below are a few representative ongoing projects. Our past projects can be found here.

Perturbation Training for Preventing Falls in People with Multiple Sclerosis

Due to damages to the central nervous system, people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience various sensorimotor impairments, increasing their risk of falls. This project is trying to examine if people with MS can learn new motor (fall resistant) skills from being repeatedly exposed to large-scale slip perturbations under a controlled and safe environment. This project will provide us direct theoretical basis of applying perturbation-based training among people with MS in order to reduce their risk of falls.

Effects and Mechanisms of Ocrevus on Ambulatory Functions in People with Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (MOBILE-RMS)

This 3-year clinical trial seeks to understand the effects and mechanisms of the FDA-approved Ocrevus on improving ambulatory functions and reducing the fall risk among people with relapsing multiple sclerosis.

Perturbation Training for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

The risk of falls is higher in people with Alzheimer’s disease than in general older adults. This study will explore the feasibility and effectiveness of applying perturbation based training in reducing the risk of falls in people with Alzheimer’s disease. If proven effective, perturbation training can be a promising fall prevention intervention for this population.

Neurobiomechanical Mechanisms of Ballet Training Preventing Falls in Older Adults

Falls and associated injuries are common in older adults, and dance-based interventions could be attractive options for improving balance and reducing falls in this population. This project aims to examine the neurobiomechanical mechanisms of ballet training in mitigating fall risk in older adults. Findings could provide a theoretical basis for applying ballet training as an intervention to reduce falls in various populations with high fall risk. (Student PI: Caroline Simpkins)

Gait Training for Improving Walking Function in People with Parkinson’s Disease

This project focuses on how different treadmill interventions affect gait and stability outcomes in people with Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, we are evaluating the difference between modulating various gait parameters to determine which intervention shows the optimal improvements in overground gait characteristics including gait speed, cadence, step length, and stability. (Student PI: Rebecca Ban)