Skip to main content

Pathokinesiology Specialization

The Pathokinesiology specialization within the Disability Disciplines Doctoral Program focuses on the scientific study of human movement (kinesiology) as it relates to any abnormal condition (patho) affecting movement or postural dysfunction.

The PhD in Pathokinesiology is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students to be productive in research and to pursue a career in academia or industry.  The program offers training to investigators who seek to answer questions about human movement, its functions and dysfunctions.  Students will be exposed to three core areas: motor control, motor learning and biomechanics.  For further information, please visit the Pathokinesiology website .


Program Contact
Name:  Dr. Eadric Bressel
Phone: 435-797-7157


A Ph.D. in Pathokinesiology will enable scientists to work at a university in academic and research faculty positions, conduct research at rehabilitation institutes, and work in industry with assistive technology and equipment design.

Research is being conducted in the following laboratories


Biomechanics Lab

Research in the Biomechanics laboratory focuses on relationships between anatomical structures, mechanics, and injuries and how they pertain to the physical rehabilitation of people with disabilities. For example, there are excellent opportunites to focus on aquatic-based research for a number of applications, including aquatic therapy for spinal cord injury, stroke, obesity, low back pain, osteoarthritis, and strength conditioning.

Motor Rehabilitation and Learning Lab

Research within the Motor Rehabilitation and Learning laboratory focuses on how the human nervous system learns new motor skills, and relearns existing ones during motor recovery following neural and musculoskeletal damage. Findings from this research are currently providing much needed evidence to support and optimize the design of targeted physical rehabilitative training for older adults across a range of age-related physical disabilities.

Sensory Motor Behavior Lab

The Sensory Motor Behavior laboratory is interested in understanding how people physically interact with their environment. Specifically, we are interested in how people plan and execute sequential actions, and how examination of movement variability can inform us about mechanisms of control involving both the brain and body. Current research includes movement timing related to visual control and stuttering, the role of social/contextual factors on characteristics of movement variability, and potential therapeutic interventions for persons with movement disorders specificially related to control of sequential, timed movement (Parkinson's Disease).

Sports Medicine Lab

The 11,000 square foot Sports Medicine clinical/research complex houses two Hydroworx water treadmill systems, a Hydroworx Cold Plunge pool, a Parvomedics True One metabolic cart, a BIOPAC MP150 data acquisition system, SMART EquiTest system (computerized dynamic posturography), a Balance Master system, and an Advanced Mechanical Technology Inc. (AMTI) water proof force plate (model OR6-WP).


Required coursework is a blend of broad multidisciplinary courses and focused specialization courses.  Core coursework, common to all areas of disability disciplines, includes multidisciplinary courses that bring together diverse perspectives on disabilities, effective services, and research methodology.  Specialization courses provide deep coverage of current developments in motor control, motor behavior and rehabilitative aspects of human movement.

Core Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (17/19)
EDUC 6570 Introduction to Education and Psychological Research
Introduction to research methods including identifying research questions, conducting research literature reviews, and design and implementation of research projects. (Students should enroll in the section of this course that is designated for full-time doctoral students.)
EDUC 6600 Measurement, Design, & Analysis
This course integrates concepts in measurement, research design, and statistical analysis for research in psychology and education. (STAT 5200 is an acceptable substitution.)
REH/SPED 7820 Seminar: Special Topics
In-depth study of special topics in special education and rehabilitation. Seminars examine historical aspects, relevant research, and theoretical positions on selected topics.
1 (3)
SPED 7400 Multicultural Issues in Disability
This seminar will focus on the juxtaposition of disability and ethnic/cultural/linguistic diversity. Three broad areas will be presented. The first area will focus on the ethnic/cultural/linguistic demography of disability. The second area will focus on the prejudice, discrimination, and handicapism and the ways in which these forces impact upon an individual who has a disability and who is a member of an ethnic/cultural/linguistic minority group. The third area will focus on practice applications, translating the concept of the first two areas into practical suggestions for professional practice.
SPED 7920 Doctoral Orientation Seminar
Orients new students to the doctoral program including career planning, program planning, fundamental concepts of scientific research and literature review, and knowledge of the available facilities and faculty members.
SPED 7940 Journal Reading Group
Under faculty direction, students read and discuss published research. Students learn to critique empirical and theoretical papers as well as current research findings in important areas of Disability Disciplines.
SPED 7820 Evidence-Based Practice
This seminar explores evidence-based practice as a framework for providing the most effective possilbe services to persons with disabilities by linking research and practice. Students will learn processes for posing appropriate clinical questions, systematically and critically reviewing research, and developing formal practice quidelines.
USU 6900 Research Integrity
The purpose of this class is to provide an underpinning of ethical conduct for students entering the research enterprise at USU. The course is designed for graduate students based on regulatory requirements from federal funding agencies. Subjects covered are ethical treatment of human participants in research, conflicts of interest, ethical care and use of animals in research, collaborative science, data ownership, management and sharing, mentor/trainee relationships, authorship and publication practices, research misconduct and peer review.

Pathokinesiology Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (17/13)
PEP 6610/7610 Topics in Biomechanics
The course will review kinematic and kinetic principles and discuss their application to physical rehabilitation. Current research published in the biomechanics discipline will form the outline for lectures and drive discussions.
PEP 6840 Fundamentals of Motor Behavior
This course offers advanced understanding of principles underlying motor control and learning. Topics such as movement variability and expertise will be explored. Discussion of research articles and class topics will focus on the practical applications of understanding motor control.
PEP 6850 Neural Aspects of Rehabilitation I
A review of the human nervous system, including the role of the basal ganglia, motor cortex and spinal cord. Structures and functions related primarily to the control of voluntary movement will be emphasized.
PEP 6860/7860 Neural Aspects of Rehabilitation II
The application of structures/functions covered in PEP 6850 to pathologies of gait, posture and voluntary arm and hand movements. Further discussion of how various rehabilitation approaches addresses these pathologies.
PEP 6870/7870 Motor Development
A study of the progressive change in movement behavior from infancy through older adulthood. Emphasis upon developing the ability to identify the stages in a variety of motor skills, physical growth patterns and biological maturity and the relationship of each to motor performance.
PEP 7620 Methods in Biomechanics
This course is designed to allow students to develop skills in using instrumentation in biomechanics for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, interpreting and presenting biomechanical data. Course content is intended to reinforce understanding of forces and motions involved in human movement.
PEP 7820 Seminar: Special Topics in Pathokinesiology
In-depth study of special topics in Pathokinesiology and physical rehabilitation. Examination of relevant research and current discipline paradigms.
3 (1)
PEP 7900 Independent Study
Individual discussion and intensive study of a particular topic in Pathokinesiology.
3 (1)



Preliminary Exams

Preliminary exams are conducted after approximately one year of full time study (or the equivalent) and provide a focus for students to attain foundational skills in research design and critique, and disciplinary knowledge. This three part exam is completed across a three day period. Components of the exam are:

  • Foundations of pathokinesiology. The student answers specific questions focusing on key foundational knowledge of normal and abnormal movement.
  • Design of Research. The student outlines the design of a research project on a given topic relevant to pathokinesiology.
  • Critique of Research. The student critiques a manuscript reporting research within pathokinesiology.

Professional Products and Internships

A set of professional products and internships provide opportunities for mentored experience in critical professional skills.


The dissertation is the capstone experience of the doctoral program. The student plans, carries out, analyzes, and interprets substantial original research that contributes to the advancement of their field of study.


Dr. Eadric Bressel
Department Head

Dr. Breanna Studenka
Associate Professor

Dr. Chris. Dakin
Assistant Professor

Dr. David Bolton
Assistant Professor

Dr. Brennan Thompson
Assistant Professor

Dr. Talin Louder
Assistant Professor