Mentor: Dr. Chris Hass
College of Health and Human Performance
"I applied for the University Scholars program because I was interested in furthering my experience in research in the Biomechanics Lab. I was also excited about the prospect of having my own research project. I hope to gain a greater understanding of research methodology, and to improve my practical lab skills. On a broader scale, I aim to produce research that is beneficial to clinicians and individuals with Parkinson’s disease."
Applied Physiology and Kinesiology
- University Scholars Program, 2012
- Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholar, 2009-present
- Dean's List, 2009, 2011
- President's Honor Roll, 2009
- Theta Alpha Christian Sorority
- UF Golden Key
- St. Francis Homeless Shelter
Hobbies and Interests
- Horseback Riding
- Country Music
Minimal Clinically Important Difference in Gait Initiation in Parkinson's Disease
Abnormal gait initiation (GI) is a prevailing motor disability in Parkinson’s Disease (PD). These abnormalities are characterized by deficits in the magnitude of the anticipatory postural adjustments (APA) and spatiotemporal characteristics of initial strides. Unfortunately, clinical research investigating PD is limited in its ability to determine the quality of findings from behavioral, pharmacological and deep-brain stimulation (DBS) therapies because the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in these GI outcome variables is unknown. As the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and Hoehn and Yahr (H and Y) Staging are the standard clinical measures of global Parkinsonian disability, the purpose of this study is to define MCID in these GI parameters associated with a clinically significant improvement in these disability scores. Since each accepted method of assessing MCID has strengths and weaknesses, I will rely on several methods of analysis in this cross-sectional study. I will use distribution- and anchor-based approaches, and utilize predetermined (small, moderate, and large) MCIDs for the APA magnitude and stepping parameters (step length and velocity). For the distribution-based approach, means, standard deviations and (Cohen) effect sizes will be calculated from a large sample of well characterized PD individuals. In the anchor-based approach, I will use the gold standards in measuring PD disability -UPDRS and H and Y stages- and previously identified MCID values for these scales. It is somewhat surprising that this work has not yet been completed considering that much recent work in healthy older adults has focused on CID’s in gait parameters and their relationship to independence and mortality. The MCID is a tool to aid clinicians in interpreting and translating statistically significant differences in clinical trials for their patients. More broadly, CIDs can also facilitate calculation of sample sizes in trials and may serve as a benchmark for interpreting treatment effects.