Hands-On Research

Physical Therapy faculty are constantly performing research and engaging students to participate with them. Much of their work is done in the Physical Therapy Department’s Motion Analysis Laboratory, located within the Patricia Leahy Memorial Research Laboratory, and in the BTE Technologies™ Rehabilitation Research Laboratory. Both labs are equipped with some of the most advanced technology in the field:

  • 8 camera Vicon Bonita B10 system with Nexus 2.0 and Bodybuilder Software
  • Bioness Unweighing device
  • Bertec nonconductive force plates
  • The MotionMonitor® data acquisition, analysis, and visualization system
  • MuscleLab 4020e-kit—Testing unit including light mat, 8 channel EMG,electric goniometer, accelerometer
  • LOGIQ e BT11—Ultrasound imaging including 12L-RS Probe. Cart, printer, software
  • GT3XE-Plus Triaxial Activity Monitors
  • Biodex System 2 computerized dynamometer
  • Twin axis electronic goniometer
  • GaitRite computerized walkway system for gait analysis
  • Zeno 4x4' Walkway for measuring balance
  • Biodex dynamometer
  • BTE Primus RS Rehabilitation System
  • BTE MCU Multi Cervical Unit
  • BTE Eval Tech Functional Testing System
  • Polhemus Liberty with 8 cabled sensors

Current Leahy and BTE Lab research and training projects include:

  • Analysis of upper limb training techniques in post-stroke individuals
  • Analysis of muscle activation patterns of quadriceps using open and closed kinetic techniques
  • Analysis of the reaching ability on the involved side of individuals who have had a stroke
  • Investigation of the efficacy of commonly used open and closed kinetic chain exercises of the lower extremity and how or if they make knee rehabilitation more efficient and effective
  • Investigation of lower extremity muscle strength in males and females with patellofemoral pain
  • Investigation of the impact on pain, function, and lower extremity biomechanics of a core and hip muscle strengthening program as a treatment for adults with knee osteoarthritis affecting the patellofemoral compartment of the knee
  • Investigation of test-retest reliability of an electromagnetic motion capture system during sit-to-stand and step-down tasks.

Community Research and Service Learning

As a physical therapy student, you’ll have the opportunity to become involved in research projects initiated by faculty and to spearhead meaningful community projects on your own. Research involvement gives students a dynamic view of how new techniques and philosophies emerge, while community learning projects allow you to gain experience in presenting wellness topics and developing solutions to address specific health issues, as well as to work hands-on with clients through the process.

Examples of recent service projects include:

  • The impact of exercise and stress management on cancer related fatigue
  • Transition in Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis: What is the role of Physical Therapy?
  • The use of standardized patients in training healthcare students for inter-professional practice
  • A series of wellness presentations, fliers and brochures provided on campus to faculty, staff and students of the University. 
  • Development of an interactive exercise and educational website for people with traumatic brain injuries, cerebral vascular accidents, spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis
  • An online exercise program for cancer patients located on OncoLink
  • Participation in the locomotor training program at Magee Rehabilitation, a member of the NeuroRecovery Network
  • A health fair at a neighborhood retirement community
  • The use of objective measures in hippotherapy (rider and family experiences in therapeutic riding.)
  • Participation in School Trips for Students with Disability: School professionals’ perspectives on strategies for trip planning


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