Balance Disorders Laboratory

Research Interests

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.

Current research

Neural Mechanisms Underlying Gait/Balance Control

The Balance Disorders Laboratory's current studies are relating integrity of the brain’s postural/locomotor circuits to objective measures of balance and gait disorders in patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease as well as patients with frontal gait disorders (e.g., vascular parkinsonism). These projects will improve our understanding of the role of the frontal cortex in balance and gait and how cognitive impairments relate to postural disorders with the goal of improving mobility rehabilitation in the elderly.

Balance and Gait Rehabilitation

Balance and Gait Rehabilitation in People with Parkinsonism

One of the long-term goals of the laboratory is to develop effective physical and cognitive rehabilitation approaches to improve balance and gait in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Clarifying the relationships between gait deficits and frontal lobe deficits in the brain will lead to more effective rehabilitation interventions that can improve both mobility and cognitive function not only in people with PD, but also in elderly adults at high risk of falling due to neurological deficits that affect the frontal lobe of the brain.

King LA & Horak FB (2009). Delaying mobility disability in people with Parkinson’s disease using a sensorimotor agility exercise program. Phys Ther, 89(4):384-93.

Balance and Gait Rehabilitation

Balance and Gait Rehabilitation

Portable, Wireless Motion Sensors

With help of the Balance Disorders Laboratory, APDM is developing systems to allow clinicians and clinical researchers to monitor mobility and clinical motor symptoms using their core technology, "Opal" wearable sensors. APDM has developed a portable wireless sensor system that can characterize movement performance in a clinical setting, or continuously throughout the day. This system can measure how things like stride length, turn duration, or tremor change after an intervention, and gather data without cumbersome equipment or days of post-processing.

OHSU works together with APDM to initiate ground-breaking gait and balance research.

Portable, Wireless Motion Sensors

Portable, wireless motion sensors

Training opportunities

Routes to join the lab

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

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program

Biomechanical Engineering Graduate Program

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

For questions contact us at