Motor Control Laboratory

The Motor Control Laboratory is interested in how aging and neurological disorders limit exercise and movement in humans.

We are also interested in how exercise can be used to promote neurorehabilitation. Our current research examines the benefits of exercise and movement training on motor function in individuals with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

Potential Graduate Students

Dr. Ridgel is currently accepting MS and PhD level students in her lab.  Teaching and research graduate assistantships may be available to qualified individuals.  Email Dr. Ridgel for more information.

Recent Publications

View Dr. Ridgel's Curriculum Vitae

Current Projects

Current Projects - Motor Control Lab

Speed Manipulated Adaptive Rehabilitation Therapy (SMART) bike for Parkinson’s disease

The primary objective of this study is to test the effectiveness of Speed Manipulated Adaptive Rehabilitation Therapy (SMART) cycling.  This adaptive technology, developed in our lab, should optimize benefits within and between sessions. Our central hypothesis is that SMART cycling will improve Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms with decreased heterogeneity in responses and will improve function and quality of life. To test the effectiveness of the adaptive dynamic model, we will examine changes in motor performance and quality of life over 12 exercise sessions. Outcome measures include UPDRS Motor III, PDQ-39, Physical Performance Test, fine motor control (hepatic device). Our long-term goal is to develop an optimal rehabilitation paradigm for PD.

Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise Phase 3 Clinical Trial: SPARX3 (Multi-site NIH Funded Trial)

The objective is to establish the efficacy of progressive high intensity endurance exercise as first-line therapy for recently diagnosed people with PD. This study is a Phase III efficacy trial of high intensity endurance exercise on a treadmill for slowing the disease progression of PD. We will conduct a 12-month multi-center, randomized, controlled (two doses of intensity), evaluator-blinded study of high intensity endurance exercise. The two levels of treadmill exercise are moderate intensity (4 days/wk for 30 minutes per session while exercising on a treadmill at 60-65% HRmax) and high intensity (4 days/wk 30 minutes per session while exercising on a treadmill at 80-85% HRmax). The proposed study is designed to test three specific aims. First, to establish the efficacy of high intensity endurance to slow the progression of PD as measured by the change in the MDS-Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS Part III) score over 6 and 12 months. Second, to ascertain the effect of high dose endurance on the progression of PD over 6 and 12 months as measured by a number of clinically meaningful and widely accepted measures of disease progression in early PD including: improvements ambulatory capacity (sum of 5 MDS-UPDRS items: falling, freezing, walking, gait, postural stability), distance covered in 6 minute walk, an increased number of steps during the week, improved cognitive function, increased VO2 max and improved quality of life compared to those in the 60-65% HR max group. Third, to test the effects of high intensity progressive endurance exercise on PD over 12 months on biomarkers of dopaminergic neuronal integrity and blood-derived biomarkers of inflammation.


Equipment - Motor Control Lab

This laboratory is equipped with a MOTOmed Viva 2 Parkinson movement trainer as well as several custom-designed “Smartbikes.” Motor function assessment tools include a Noraxon Electromyogram (EMG) system, the Kinesia Motor Assessment System (Cleveland Medical Devices) and a reaching table (designed by collaborators at Rockwell Automation). Mobility, gait and posture assessment equipment includes the Functional Assessment of Biomechanics System (wireless biomechanical system), a Biodex Balance System, Dartfish software, video cameras and a Biodex Unweighing System with safety harness. The lab also has a cognitive testing station which uses WebNeuro software.  Additional equipment, shared with Athletic Training, include two SwissWings segmental mechanical vibration devices.

Student Presentations

Student Presentations - Motor Control Lab

Pollock, B.S.&, Petersen, J*, Calvo, D*, Gerhart*, H, McDaniel, J, Spitznagel, M, Ridgel, AL.   The effects of water aerobics exercise on cerebral perfusion in multiple sclerosis, Midwest American College of Sports Medicine Meeting, November 2016

Harper, SA* and Ridgel, AL. Effects of Val66Met polymorphism on depression and responses to exercise in individuals with Parkinson’s disease Midwest American College of Sports Medicine Meeting, November 2016

Ridgel, A., Ault, D*. Dynamic cycling improves motor symptoms and mobility in individuals with PD.  Journal of Parkinson’s disease 6(s1). 4rd World Parkinson Congress- October 2016.   

Pollock, BS&, Burns, K*. Boka, K*. Ridgel, AL, McDaniel J. Vascular function in Parkinson’s Disease patients. Journal of Parkinson’s disease 6(s1). 4rd World Parkinson Congress- October 2016.   

Petersen, J*, Calvo, D*, Gerhart, H*, Spitznagel, M, Ridgel, AL. Effects of brief aquatic exercise on cardiovascular fitness and cerebral oxygenation in Multiple Sclerosis. Society for Neuroscience Meeting- November 2015

Bishnoi, A*, Mavundza, N*, White, B+, Fesemyer, K+, Phillips, R.S.*, Ridgel AL. Effects of vibration stimulation on muscle recruitment and balance performance.  EHHS Gallery of Research. May 2014.

​Phillips, RS*, Ridgel, AL*. Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease Benefit From A Single Bout of Dynamic Cycling. American College of Sports Medicine Meeting- May 2014

Phillips, RS*, Wilson, KA*, Ridgel, AL. Bradykinesia and timed up and go are improved after dynamic cycling in Parkinson’s disease, 3rd World Parkinson Congress- October 2013

Peacock, CA*, Wilson, KA*, Sanders, GJ*, Corbett, DB*, Fickes EJ*, Glickman EL, Ridgel, AL. Parkinson’s disease patients tolerate multifaceted exercise intervention while improving health-related physical fitness.  American College of Sports Medicine Meeting- May 2013

Wilson, KA*, Phillips, RS*, Abdar, HM, Discenzo, FM., Loparo, KA, Ridgel, AL. Dynamic Cycling Promotes Upper Extremity Motor Improvements in Parkinson’s disease. American College of Sports Medicine Meeting- May 2013

&- Post-doctoral Fellow
*-  graduate student
+- undergraduate student

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