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Amy J. Bastian, Ph.D., PT
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: (443) 923-2716
Dr. Amy J. Bastian is the director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also a professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
After completing her undergraduate degree in physical therapy at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Bastian completed her doctoral degree in movement science at Washington University in 1995, and a post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience at Washington University under Dr. W.T. Thach. Most recently, Dr. Bastian was an assistant professor in physical therapy in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Bastian came to Kennedy Krieger Institute in Summer 2001.
Movement disorders commonly occur following neurological damage. Dr. Bastian and her colleagues study the movements of adults and children who have damage or disease of the central nervous system. Her group is interested in understanding the mechanisms of different types of movement disorders, as well as how and why different treatments improve movement. She is also actively studying how new movements are "learned" and what the course of movement recovery following different types brain damage is.
Much of Dr. Bastian's work has focused on understanding how damage to the part of the brain called the cerebellum causes movement incoordination or "ataxia." Cerebellar damage can be caused by tumor, stroke, hemorrhage or degenerative disease. Ataxia resulting from cerebellar damage is extremely difficult to treat; often interventions are limited to physical therapy and exercise. Dr. Bastian's long range goals are to help clarify the mechanisms by which cerebellar damage alters the production of normal movement and provide information that will enhance rehabilitation treatments for ataxia. Her prior research suggests that one important role of the cerebellum is to adjust the motor output controlling a given part of the body to compensate for mechanical effects caused by movement of other body parts (interaction torques). Her current research involves both children and adults with cerebellar ataxia. Specific studies are underway to define the mechanisms of gait (walking) ataxia, determine whether short-term training can improve ataxic movements, and determine whether people with cerebellar ataxia can learn to shift movement performance to a more automatic state. Dr. Bastian's group is also studying the movement disorders and treatments associated with cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Bastian works with neurologists, physical therapists and neuroscientists. Her laboratory employs several techniques to quantify movement including: 3-dimensional tracking and reconstruction of movement kinematics, recordings of muscle activity, force plate recordings and calculation of joint forces and torques. These techniques allow Dr. Bastian to make very precise measurements of many different types of movements including: walking, reaching, leg movements, hand movements and standing balance. The quantitative information gained from her studies make it possible to detect very small changes in movement performance over time or with treatment.
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