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James R. Borrelli, PhD

Academic Title:

Post Doc Fellow

Primary Appointment:

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science


Allied Health Building 100 S. Penn St. Baltimore, MD 21201

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-3242

Education and Training

BS, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, Mechanical Engineering

MS, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, Mechanical Engineering

PhD, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Borrelli is an emerging scientist in the area of falls and fall injury prevention. His research aims to identify neuromotor, biomechanical, and musculoskeletal mechanisms that can be leveraged to develop condition specific interventions and rehabilitation that facilitate aging in place. His recent work has focused on the biomechanical stability of protective stepping reactions using the legs, characterization of age-related changes in arm reactions (used to recover balance or protect from injury), and development of an assessment/rehabilitation tool for challenging protective arm reactions.

His recent work has highlighted the importance of hip abductor power training and perturbation training as a means of reducing incidence of falls [1] and demonstrated a clinically accessible means of assessing fall riks in individuals with acquired brain injury [2]. His work was one of the first studies to probe the capactiy of the CNS to select arm reactions following a loss of balance and the effect of age [3]. This work led to studies of specific reaction strategies of the arm, e.g. used to protect the body from injury during an unavoidable fall [4] and how a handrail can be grasped to improve biomechanical stability [5].

He is currently investigating the effect of age on the ability to protect the body from injury when a fall is unavoidable. He is also testing a custom fall simulator device that is intended to be used as an assessment/rehabilitation device. The device simulates a fall on outstretched hands in a safe and is able to modulate fall intensity.

Research/Clinical Keywords

physical therapy

Highlighted Publications

  1. Borrelli J, Creath RA, Pizac D, Hsiao HY, Sanders OP, Rogers MW. Perturbation-evoked lateral steps in older adults: Why take two steps when one will do? Clinical Biomechanics. 2019, 63:41-47.
  2. Borrelli J, Junod C, Inness EL, Jones S, Mansfield A, Maki BE. Clinical assessment of reactive balance control in acquired brain injury and stroke: A comparison of manual and cable release-from-lean perturbation methods. Physiotherapy Research International, 2019, 24: 1-10.
  3. Borrelli J, Zabukovec J, Jones S, Junod C, Maki BE. Age-related changes in the capacity to select early-onset upper-limb reactions to either recover balance or protect against impact. Experimental Gerontology. 2019, 125:1-13
  4. Borrelli J, Creath RA, Rogers, MW. Protective arm reactions are modulated with fall height. Journal of Biomechanics. 2020, 99: 1-10.
  5. Borrelli J, Komisar V, Novak A, Maki BE, King E. The effect of handrail loads in calculation of the center of pressure location during anteroposterior perturbation. Journal of Biomechanics. 2020: 1-13.