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Laura Miller McPherson, PT, DPT, PhD

2016 Early Career Professional Awardee

    Dr. McPherson graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Neuroscience. She then pursued both a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Northwestern University. She received postdoctoral training in Neurophysiology at Northwestern University following the completion of her PhD. Dr. McPherson brings an expansive knowledge of these fields to the practice of neurologic physical therapy. 

    Dr. McPherson is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Florida International University. When describing her current research, she states "My current research focus is to use analysis of motor unit discharge to quantify the ways in which volitional motor commands are altered in individuals with motor impairments due to stroke or multiple sclerosis. Because motor units transform motor commands into muscle forces, their discharge characteristics provide a unique window into the composition of motor commands after they have been processed by all levels of the central nervous system. The goal of my research is to use this information to quantify pathological central nervous system processing of motor commands and to examine how it is related to specific movement system disorders." 

    In addition to her work as a researcher, she also teaches Applied Clinical Neuroanatomy to first year students in the DPT program at Florida International University, and serves as a mentor to second year students during their year-long research project. One of the ways she has found membership in the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy helpful is related to her role as an educator. She states "I have enjoyed reading through the 2016 Compendium for Teaching Professional Level Physical Therapy Neurologic Content that I can access through the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy website, and I look forward to incorporating some of the Compendium’s learning activities into my Applied Clinical Neuroanatomy course this year." As one of the winners of last year's Early Career Professional Award, Dr. McPherson had the opportunity to attend CSM 2016. 

    Dr. McPherson has attended CSM yearly, since 2011. Describing her experiences at CSM, she states "I have really enjoyed returning to CSM each year because I have benefitted from the programming in different ways depending on my role at the time.  For example, last year, I attended a session co-sponsored by the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy on Regenerative Rehabilitation and Genomics, which included discussion of how to incorporate these topics into DPT curricula. As a new faculty member, I found this information particularly relevant, and because of this session I included content about Regenerative Rehabilitation and Genomics in my Applied Clinical Neuroanatomy course. CSM has also been a great opportunity to establish new professional relationships and maintain existing ones."

    Dr. McPherson brings her training in the fields of biomedical engineering, physical therapy, and neurophysiology together with her work as a researcher, clinician, and educator. Because of her broad expertise in these fields, she is in a unique position to help the advancement in the field of neurologic physical therapy and will continue to contribute over the years to come. 

 
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