Parent Page: Research Centers & Labs id: 25674 Active Page: Motor Learning and Balance in People with MSid:25703

Motor Learning and Balance in People with MS


Current Projects


Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) While Walking on a Treadmill

Treadmill image

Lab Information


Grants Received:

  • 2019-2021
    Presbyterian Health Foundation Seed Grant
    Functional Intermuscular Reduction in Spasticity in People with Multiple Sclerosis MS-FIRST
  • 2022-2023
    Oklahoma Physical Therapy Foundation 
    Lateral Stepping in People with Multiple Sclerosis

Grants Submitted, Not Funded:

  • 2022
    College of Allied Health Student Grant 
  • 2022
    Presbyterian Health Foundation Seed Grant, Funded 
  • 2021
    OSCTR Oklahoma Shared Clinical Translation Research L-STEP
  • 2021
    OCAST Forward STEP
  • 2021
    College of Allied Health Faculty Grant L-STEP
  • 2021
    Trans-Cranial Direct Stimulation in Stroke
  • 2018
    Tele-rehabilitation in MS 


Peer Reviewed or Refereed:

  • Miller, B. J., Kolobe, T. H. A., Larson, R. D., Pribble, B. A., Pardo, G., & James, S. A. (2022). Functional intermuscular reduction in spasticity for people with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis journal - experimental, translational and clinical, 8(1), 20552173211061547. doi:10.1177/20552173211061547


  • Miller BJ, James SA, Pardo G, Kolobe TH. Functional intermuscular reduction in spasticity in MS (MS-FIRST).  Poster presented at:  Great Symposium, OUHSC, March 22-25, 2020. The meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic"
  • Bobbette Miller, Shirley James, and Thubi Kolobe Abstract scheduled for oral and poster presentation at the 2020 Allied Health Research Day April 17, 2020. The meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic"
  • Miller BJ, James SA, Pardo G, Kolobe TH. Functional intermuscular reduction in spasticity in MS (MS-FIRST).  Poster presented at:  Tenth International Symposium on Gait & Balance in Multiple Sclerosis meeting; October 3, 2020; Denver, CO.
  • Miller BJ, James SA, Pardo G, Kolobe TH. Functional intermuscular reduction in spasticity in MS (MS-FIRST). American Physical Therapy Association-Combine Section February 8-26, 2021. 
  • Miller BJ, James SA, Pardo G, Kolobe TH. Functional intermuscular reduction in spasticity in MS (MS-FIRST).  Poster presented at:  Great Symposium, OUHSC, March 22-25, 2021. 
  • Brian A. Pribble, Bobbette Miller, Shirley James, Christopher Black, Rebecca Larson, Dry Needling for The Treatment of Spasticity in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis, Poster, American College of Sport’s Medicine, June 1-5, 2021
  • Jeffries, L.M., Randall, K., James, S., Lepak, L., Cheema, C., Williams, J., Miller, B., Bender, D.G. Comparison of doctor of physical therapy student clinical readiness using two simulation methods.  American Physical Therapy Association-Combine Section February, 2022

Wheelchair Project

In low-resource areas motorized wheelchairs are not available or even practical due to the uneven terrain. While many children can independently propel their own wheelchairs indoors; over uneven terrain can be difficult. Therefore, for a child to fully engage in the community it often necessitates a caregiver to push them. Pushing a wheelchair over rough terrain is physically demanding and can be laborious, necessitating understanding how wheelchair components impact the physiologic load of pushing a wheelchair.

wheelchair project

This study will compare the perceived difficulty of pushing of two types of wheelchairs commonly used in low-resource areas, Honeybee by Beeline and Participant Cub by CLASP, over three types of terrain. We will ask 30 individuals to push each wheelchair on three different tracks, a total of six trials. The rating of difficulty will be measured using a visual analog scale, in addition to the distance traveled in four minutes.

Studying the influences of wheelchair design on physiological demands when pushing a wheelchair through various types of terrain and environments is important, especially in low-resource areas where people experience other types of stressors. The physiologic load can affect the longevity of the caregiver and the participation of the wheelchair user, which influences the quality of life. This type of study offers these organizations and manufacturers the information to allow better allocation of funds and improved wheelchair design that meets the needs of low-resource areas.

Ad Brochure

Lateral Perturbation Project

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often fall because of physical problems, including muscle weakness and slowed reaction time, that accompany this debilitating disease. One reason people with MS fall is that they lack adequate balance strategies when they lose their balance in a lateral direction. These balance challenges commonly occur during household responsibilities, including child care, home care, laundry, and outdoor work. Lateral or side-to-side balance displacements are particularly dangerous because when people who are already weak fall to the side, they can fracture their shoulders or hips. These fractures are particularly disabling and can be fatal. Therefore, understanding how people with MS respond to a loss of balance in the lateral direction compared to people without MS is important. By knowing problems related to balance responses in the lateral direction will lead to precise and targeted intervention to prevent future falls

Video of Perturbation

Steeping Response to Lateral Pertubation



Functional Intermuscular Reduction in Spasticity in MS (MS-FIRST) is a research project using combination of intermuscular electrical stimulation (IMES), followed by external functional electrical stimulation (FES) combined with treadmill training would decrease spasticity, improve muscle strength and force, with the functional objective of improved walking speed and endurance in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Shirley James and Bobbette Miller, both from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, see study participants at the the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) MS Center of Excellence, where Bobbette works clinically as physical therapist.



Photo of group
Dr. James and Bobbette Miller with Graduate Research Assistants Hannah Madison and Cathering Brownen.

Intermuscular Dry Needling (IMES)

Dry Needling