Kerri Morgan with student and research participant

Enabling Mobility in the Community Laboratory

General Laboratory Description

Dr. Morgan directs the Enabling Mobility in the Community Laboratory, which conducts community-based research to bridge the gap between services offered to persons with a disability through rehabilitation and in the community. Strong methodological approaches are implemented to examine community-based interventions promoting health, decreasing secondary conditions and improving physical fitness for persons with a disability that can be offered post-rehabilitation to enhance their participation in meaningful life activities. The lab’s primary study population is persons with lower extremity mobility limitations including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

General Description of Student Activities

Students will have the opportunity to participate in lab activities to include literature reviews, data entry and analysis, writing journal articles and working with lab participants. Students will work with other members of the research lab, but may also have the opportunity to work with programs and personnel at Paraquad, a community partner. Time requirements are in line with the Program in Occupational Therapy expectations. The laboratory activities are conducted at the Stephen A. Orthwein Center at Paraquad at 5200 Berthold Ave.; therefore, the ability to transition between 4444 Forest Park Ave. and the Orthwein Center is necessary.

Examples of Projects

  • Implementing interventions to train manual wheelchair users in wheelchair propulsion biomechanics using motor learning principles
  • Testing and using a device (computer-controlled wheelchair dynamometer) for use with manual wheelchair users for wheelchair training and exercise
  • Assessing the effectiveness of a 12-week community-based exercise program for persons with a disability
  • Examining the duration and intensity of exercise programs to change the overall physical fitness of persons with a disability
  • Exploring participation limitations as persons with a long-term disability age


PhD Mentor Information

The focus of Dr. Morgan’s research is to generate empirical knowledge helpful for guiding community based and person-based interventions that improve the participation of people with mobility disabilities. Her work ranges from community-based participation studies to basic mechanistic studies of biomechanics of the upper extremity for manual wheelchair users during propulsion. Earlier in her career, Dr. Morgan assisted with the development and testing of standardized measures that assess the quality of participation in major life activities and the environmental facilitators and barriers impacting participation for people with disabilities. In addition, she created a community-based program housed in a local independent living center that provides services for people with disabilities (such as health and wellness programs and assistive technology assessments and training). Dr. Morgan also developed a device (an instrumented wheelchair roller system) to provide health-care professionals evidence-based options for providing wheelchair training and exercise programs.

Research Foci

  • Improving the implementation of community-based programs to increase the participation and health of people with mobility disabilities
  • Determining the best methods of community intervention and education to improve participation in physical activity for persons with a mobility disability
  • Identifying the physical activity needs of persons with a spinal cord injury as they transition out of rehabilitation and into the community and how best to meet those needs
  • Determining the duration and intensity of exercise necessary to impact long-term health outcomes in people with mobility disabilities
  • Developing tools to test physical exertion and physical fitness in people with mobility disabilities


Current PhD Student
Rachel Heeb, OTD

Ranked as the Number Three OT Program in the Nation

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or Sarah Alsop at (314) 286-1655