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Featured Researcher - Summer 2016

Susan Sigward, PhD, PT, ATC

“My research focuses on rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLr), with a specific emphasis on the effects of early rehabilitation interventions on long-term outcomes. The persistence of altered knee joint loading during gait and functional activities up to 24 months post ACLr suggest that current rehabilitation programs are not adequately resolving motor impairments. These strategies are often observed in the absence of joint level impairments suggesting that they may be the result of motor adaptions that occur during early recovery and rehabilitation. I am grateful for the funding that I received from the CAL-PT-FUND as it came at a critical time as I was focusing my research on this issue. The study attempted to shape early knee loading behaviors using a daily gait training program. With this pilot intervention we identified features of knee loading that may be more amenable to specific training. This study served as a springboard for additional pilot funding to describe changes in loading across early rehabilitation and to develop procedures for quantification of daily gait behaviors. Future work aims to determine the influence of daily behaviors on the adoption of motor impairments and to develop interventions that use feedback regarding maladaptive behavior thorough out the day to correct these impairments.”

Susan Sigward is an Assistant Professor in Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California and is the Director of the division’s Human Performance Laboratory. She practiced for 10 years in orthopedics and sports medicine before returning to get her PhD in Biokinesiology. Using biomechanical motion analysis tools, her early research studies were among the first to identify sex specific movement patterns that predispose female athletes to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries during sport activities. This information had significant impact on the field and continues to be used to support the use of injury prevention training programs to optimize movement and reduce injury risk. Her current work reflects a drive to generate and deliver empirical evidence that advances and supports clinical practices in physical therapy.


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