Position Assistant professor - Doctor of Physical Therapy

Kristin Lowry joined the faculty of DMU’s physical therapy department in October 2013. Previously, she completed a postdoctoral training program in geriatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her physical therapy degree and post-professional master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Pittsburgh and her Ph.D. in kinesiology with a minor in gerontology from Iowa State University. Dr. Lowry’s primary research interest is the measurement and retraining of walking skill. Specifically, her work focuses on investigating the control variables and tasks that best capture walking skill, and the development and comparison of gait rehabilitation interventions for older adults with mobility disability and persons with Parkinson’s disease.

2014 research

The overarching goal for my research plan is to contribute thoughtful and thought-provoking work to two areas of gait research: 1) the assessment and measurement of walking skill, and 2) the retraining of walking skill.  These two primary research lines (assessment & measurement, and retraining) are highlighted below.

Primary Project Description

  1. Assessment & Measurement of walking skill
    1. Assessment/Measurement Project A:  “An optimal control approach to identify key aspects of highly skilled walking performance”
      • Primary collaborators: Jason Gillette, Iowa State University, Jessie VanSwearingen University of PIttsburgh
      • Purpose: to combine movement aspects into a cost function that best explains highly skilled walking performance.
    2. Assessment/Measurement Project B:  “Motor Imagery to Improve Motor Skill of Walking in Older Adults and Persons with Parkinson’s Disease”
      • primary purpose is retraining, but designed to address measurement questions: test/retest reliability of smoothness, Figure-of-8 walk test validation data
  2. Retraining of Walking Skill
    1. Retraining Project A: “Motor Imagery to Improve Motor Skill of Walking in Older Adults and Persons with Parkinson’s Disease”
      • Purpose: examining efficacy of motor imagery to improve walking skill in persons with PD
      • Collaborators: Dr. Ann Smiley-Oyen, ISU; Jessie Van Swearingen, University of PIttsburgh
    2. Retraining Project B: ““A Task-oriented motor learning intervention for improving walking skill in persons with PD: a Consideration-of-Concept study
      • consideration of concept pilot to examine efficacy of the motor learning  intervention in improving walking skill in persons with PD
    3. Retraining Project C :  “Investigations of LSVT BIG outcomes”
      • Purpose: examine functional outcomes following LSVT physical therapy intervention
      • Collaborators: On with Life, neurorehabiliation facility, Ankeny, Iowa


Brach, J.S., Lowry, K.A., Perera, S., Hornyak, V., Wert, D., Studenski, S., VanSwearingen J.M. Improving Motor Control in Walking: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Older Adults with Subclinical Walking Difficulty, in submission, Age and Ageing

Lowry, K.A., Sejdic, E., Brach, J.S. (2013). Acceleration –based gait analysis: accelerating mobility assessment in older adults. Aging Health, 9, 465-467.

Sejdic, E., Lowry, K.A., Roche, J., Redfern, M., Brach, J.S. (2013). A comprehensive assessment of gait accelerometry signals in time, frequency and time-frequency domains IEEE, Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. Epub doi:10.1109/TNSRE.2013.2265887

Lowry, K.A., VanSwearingen, J., Perera, S., Studenski, S., Brach, J.S. (2013). Walking smoothness is associated with self-reported function after accounting for gait speed. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Sci, Epub 2013, doi:10.1093/gerona/glt034.

Roche, J., Lowry, K.A., VanSwearingen, J., Brach, J.S., Redfern, M. (2013). Harmonic Ratios: A quantification of step-to-step symmetry. Journal of Biomechanics, 46, 828-831.

Maughan, K.K., Lowry, K.A., Franke, W.D., Smiley-Oyen, A.L. (2012). The dose-response relationship of balance training in physically active older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 20, 442-55.

Smiley-Oyen, A.L., Hall, S.A., Lowry, K.A., Kerr, J.R. (2012). Effects of extensive practice on bradykinesia in Parkinson’s disease: improvement, retention and transfer. Motor Control, 16, 1-18.

Lowry, K.A., Lokenvitz, N., & Smiley-Oyen, A.L. (2012). Age- and speed-related differences in trunk smoothness during walking. Gait and Posture, 35, 272-6.

Lowry, K.A., VanSwearingen, J., Brach, J., Studenski, S. (2012). Contributions of cognitive function to straight- and curved-path walking in older adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 93, 802-7.

Lowry, K.A., Vallejo, A.N., Studenski, S.A. (2012). Successful Aging as a Continuum of Functional Independence: Lessons From Physical Disability Models of Aging. Aging and Disease, 3, 5-15.

Lowry, K.A., Carrel, A.J., McIlrath J.M., & Smiley-Oyen, A.L. (2010). The use of harmonic ratios to examine the effect of cueing strategies on gait stability in persons with Parkinson’s disease. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 91, 632-638.

Lowry, K.A., Smiley-Oyen, A.L., Carrel, A.J. & Kerr, J.R. (2009). Walking stability using harmonic ratios in persons with Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 24, 261-267.

Smiley-Oyen, A.L., Lowry, K.A., Francoise, S.J., Kohut, M.L., & Ekkekakis, E. (2008). Exercise, fitness, and neurocognitive function in older adults: The “selective improvement” and “cardiovascular fitness” hypotheses. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 36, 280-291.

Smiley-Oyen, A.L., Lowry, K.A., & Kerr, J.R. (2007). Planning and control of sequential rapid aiming in adults with Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Motor Behavior, 39, 103-114.

PHS 398/2590 (Rev. 06/09) Page 3 Biographical Sketch Format Page

Smiley-Oyen, A.L., Lowry, K.A., & Emerson, Q.R. (2006). Learning and retention of movement sequences in Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 21, 1078-1087.