Motor Control Lab

Our lab 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.

Current Projects

The role of genetic variation on depression and cognition in individuals with Parkinson’s disease and on responses to cycling exercise. 

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) tend to have high inter-individual variability in symptoms and in response to exercise. A genetic variation called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism may influence variability of attention and executive function domains, depression symptoms, quality of life and motor symptoms after dynamic cycling. The first aim is to determine if the prevalence of the Val66Met polymorphism influenced to incidences of attention and executive dysfunction, depression symptoms, decreased quality of life, and motor symptoms. The second aim was to determine if Val66Met polymorphism influenced changes in attention and executive function, depression symptoms, quality of life and motor symptoms after dynamic cycling (S. Harper, Doctoral Dissertation).

Adaptive rehabilitation for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

It is widely appreciated that exercise-based rehabilitation promotes improvements in function and Parkinson’s disease symptoms. However, there is significant heterogeneity in treatment responses among individuals with variable type and severity of PD symptoms. There is a critical need to develop intelligent rehabilitation paradigms that, in conjunction with current pharmacological treatments, decrease the heterogeneity of these responses and improve motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. It is also important to know how long these effects last. The primary objective of this study is to develop adaptive control algorithms for our instrumented dynamic cycle and to test the effectiveness of this rehabilitation paradigm on motor and non-motor symptoms of PD. A secondary objective is to investigate the potential underlying mechanisms for these improvements. This project is in collaboration with Drs. Kenneth Loparo, Benjamin Walter and Curtis Tatsuoka at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospital.

Enhanced Exercise Therapy for Patients with PD (EXCEED).

This project is in collaboration with Martha Sajatovic MD and Benjamin Walter MD at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospital. EXCEED uses guided exercise in conjunction with a peer co-led psychoeducation model to target depressive, motor and cognitive symptoms in people with PD.  Given the increasing evidence that non-motor symptoms are both the least well- treated and can have the greatest impact on quality of life in people with PD, the public health significance of the proposed project is substantial.


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.

Recent Publications

View Dr. Ridgel's Curriculum Vitae

Student Presentations

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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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.