Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
Director of Student Affairs, DPT Program
Allied Health Research Building (AHRB), 205B
Education and Training
I graduated from Towson University with bachelor’s degrees in Mass Communication and Music. I then earned a Masters in Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. After practicing clinically for several years, my interests in motor control, particularly in persons with stroke, led me to return to the University of Maryland, Baltimore and subsequently earn a PhD in Physical Rehabilitation Science.
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. As a physical therapist, I am interested in motor control, how aging and disease can affect our ability to perform safe, functional mobility, and advancing the science that supports effective rehabilitation techniques to improve the safety and mobility of older adults. My research focuses on interventions to improve balance control and reduce fall risk in older adult populations and the neuromuscular mechanisms that are affected by those interventions. I am particularly interested in the how mechanisms of somatosensory awareness and attention can affect our ability to respond appropriately to a balance perturbation. I also study motor adaptation (a change in an established movement program driven by error based learning mechanisms) during walking in people with stroke and hemiparesis. As Director of Student Affairs for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, I am interested in the roles that resilience and grit, two separate but related concepts, play in the education of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students.
My primary teaching responsibilities within the Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum are in the areas of neuromotor control, neuroscience, and neuro and gross anatomy. My teaching philosophy is born from a deep and abiding respect of the students with whom I am privileged to work. I strive to create a learning environment in which students are guided – allowing them to discover the topic material for themselves, where they feel comfortable asking questions, where they can develop an understanding of the relevance of the topic to the practice of physical therapy or rehabilitation science research, and in which they feel their contributions and efforts are respected.
Motor Control, Balance, Posture, Falls, Stroke, Gait Adaptation
Savin DN, Morton SM. Asymmetric generalization between the arm and leg of prism-induced visuomotor adaptation. Exp Brain Res. 2008;186:175-182.
Savin DN, Tseng SC, Morton SM. A bilateral adaptation during locomotion following a unilaterally-applied resistance to swing in non-disabled adults. J Neurophysiol. 2010;104:3600-3611.
Savin DN, Tseng SC, Whitall J, Morton SM. Poststroke hemiparesis impairs the rate but not magnitude of adaptation of spatial and temporal locomotor features. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2013; 27:24-34.
Savin DN, Morton SM, Whitall J. Generalization of Improved Step Length Symmetry from Treadmill to Overground Walking in Persons with Stroke and Hemiparesis. Clinical Neurophysiol. 2014. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2013.10.044
Sanders OP, Savin DN, Creath RA, Rogers MW. Protective balance and startle responses to sudden freefall in standing humans. Neurosci Lett. 2015; 586:8-12. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2014.11.034.
Additional Publication Citations
Whitall J, Savin DN, Harris-Love M, McCombe Waller S. Psychometric properties of a modified Wolf Motor Function Test for persons with mild and moderate upper extremity hemiparesis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006;87:656-660.
Gama GL, Savin DN, Keenan T, Waller SM, Whitall J. Comparing the effects of adapting to a weight on one leg during treadmill and overground walking: A pilot study. Gait Posture. 2017; 59:35-39. Doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.09.025.
Sanders OP, Hsiao HY, Savin DN, Creath RA, Rogers MW. Aging changes in protective balance and startle responses to sudden drop perturbations. J Neurophysiol. 2019 In Press.
Sanders OP, Hsiao HY, Savin DN, Creath RA, Rogers MW. Aging effects of motor prediction on protective balance and startle responses to sudden drop perturbations. J Biomech In Press.
My research interests broadly involve motor control. I have specific interests in finding ways to improve balance and mobility in older adult clinical populations and the ability of different exercise interventions to improve balance and mobility and decrease fall risk in older adults who are at high risk of falls. I am also interested in the ability of changes in somatosensory awareness to impact motor control and in the ability to motor adaptation to reduce gait asymmetry in people with stroke and hemiparesis and how this can be implemented in the community. Educationally, I am interested in the roles that resilience and grit, two separate but related concepts, play in the education of graduate students.
Awards and Affiliations
UMB Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitiation Science Alumnus of the year, 2014.
UMB Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Faculty of the Year Award, 2016, 2019.
Grants and Contracts
2005-2008: Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (T32), Mary Rodgers, PI (NIH T32 HD041899).
2009-2010: Department of Veterans Affairs Pre-Doctoral Associated Health Rehabilitation Research Fellowship.
2011-2014: University of Maryland Older Americans Independence Center Research Career Development Scholar, Andrew Goldberg, PI (NIA P30-AG028747)
2012-2016: University of Maryland Older Americans Independence Center Pilot study award. $20,000 Douglas Savin, PI.
2018-present: PUSH Protein Pilot Study: Community Ambulation Project, Study Intervention Monitor, 10% effort. Jay Magaziner, PI.
2019-present: Veristride STTR: STEP-R, Research team member, 5% effort. Stacy Bamberg, PI, Jill Whitall, Co-I.