Movement Science Lab grows in size, technology


The Movement Science Lab in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy took a giant leap forward last fall. The lab increased its space from 550 square feet to more than 1,700.

“It means having a better space for research and activities,” says Margaret Finley, KSPT director of research. “We have many faculty and students who study movement science research and study human movement. Now we have one of the best labs in the state.”

New equipment includes three force plates in the floor that calculate loads and stresses, and 10 suspended video cameras that record joint angles when a subject is walking or moving. Also new is an upper-extremity platforms game system to help treat adults following a stroke, and a gait map, which is a long mat with sensors that can calculate timing and symmetry of a subject’s gait. Current research focuses on knee motion and joint loading after certain types of knee replacement, arm function and gait after a stroke, and balance and gait in people with Parkinson’s disease after being in an exercise program.

Many of the patients who come to UIndy are from support groups for victims of stroke and Parkinson’s, referrals from doctors, and the Krannert School’s Community Patient Resource Group, a large cohort of patients with ongoing or chronic physical disabilities  who have agreed to visit campus as practice patients for UIndy students.

“Now we have the ability to collaborate with other places and institutes who have the same equipment,” explains Finley. “We can expand our studies to places around the country, which is a major benefit.”

Entry-level PT students who are interested in furthering their research skills can partner with faculty to work on a project for a couple of years. Finley says that the faculty strive to make sure that student work is presented and published in scholarly journals.

“This gives students great clinical research skills,” she says. “We’re training them to better understand the research process and how to find things out to be better practitioners.”