Kelly Research Group


Walking deficits are prevalent among people living with degenerative neurologic conditions and contribute to increased risk of falling and reduced quality of life.  My research group works with people who have difficulty walking due to Parkinson disease or other neurologic conditions.  We seek to better understand the causes of walking limitations and to optimize physical therapy and exercise interventions for walking and mobility. 

One aspect of our current work examines the interactions between cognition and gait.  Our prior work demonstrated that, among people with Parkinson disease, performing a cognitive task while walking – or dual-task walking – exacerbates gait impairments.  Building on this work, we are studying whether cognitive impairments are associated with more difficulty walking, including dual-task walking and other challenging mobility tasks, like turning or avoiding obstacles, which may require cortical inputs to modulate the gait pattern.

A related aspect of our work examines whether cognitive impairments, among other factors, impact the response to gait training and exercise among people with Parkinson disease.  Identifying characteristics that impact the response to common physical therapy interventions has the potential to improve personalization of physical therapy interventions for people with degenerative neurologic conditions.

Dr. Kelly’s research funding includes the Stolov Research Fund, the Institute for Translational Health Science, the Royalty Research Fund, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.