Miranda Donnelly MS, OTR/L
Faculty Mentor: Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L
Research Lab: Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab
Year of Entry: 2019
As an occupational therapist with clinical experience in adult neurologic rehabilitation, I am interested in exploring the neural mechanisms of stroke and identifying innovative ways to improve recovery for people experiencing stroke and other acquired brain injuries. In the NPNL, I currently support research projects investigating stress and other indicators of stroke recovery, as well as virtual reality as a modality for motor recovery.
Before beginning the PhD program at USC, I worked at The Ohio State University as an OT Neurologic Fellow through the AOTA Fellowship Program.
Master of Science (MS)
in Occupational Therapy
2018 | Towson University
Bachelor of Science (BS)
in Occupation & Well-Being
2017 | Towson University
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
in Foreign Languages (Spanish Concentration)
2017 | Towson University
Marin-Pardo, O., Phanord, C., Donnelly, M. R., Laine, C. M., & Liew, S.-L. (2021). Development of a low-cost, modular muscle–computer interface for at-home telerehabilitation for chronic stroke. Sensors, 21(5), 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21051806 Show abstract
Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Recent studies have shown that high doses of repeated task-specific practice can be effective at improving upper-limb function at the chronic stage. Providing at-home telerehabilitation services with therapist supervision may allow higher dose interventions targeted to this population. Additionally, muscle biofeedback to train patients to avoid unwanted simultaneous activation of antagonist muscles (co-contractions) may be incorporated into telerehabilitation technologies to improve motor control. Here, we present the development and feasibility of a low-cost, portable, telerehabilitation biofeedback system called Tele-REINVENT. We describe our modular electromyography acquisition, processing, and feedback algorithms to train differentiated muscle control during at-home therapist-guided sessions. Additionally, we evaluated the performance of low-cost sensors for our training task with two healthy individuals. Finally, we present the results of a case study with a stroke survivor who used the system for 40 sessions over 10 weeks of training. In line with our previous research, our results suggest that using low-cost sensors provides similar results to those using research-grade sensors for low forces during an isometric task. Our preliminary case study data with one patient with stroke also suggest that our system is feasible, safe, and enjoyable to use during 10 weeks of biofeedback training, and that improvements in differentiated muscle activity during volitional movement attempt may be induced during a 10-week period. Our data provide support for using low-cost technology for individuated muscle training to reduce unintended coactivation during supervised and unsupervised home-based telerehabilitation for clinical populations, and suggest this approach is safe and feasible. Future work with larger study populations may expand on the development of meaningful and personalized chronic stroke rehabilitation.
Keywords. biofeedback; stroke; telerehabilitation; electromyography; human-computer interface
Yeager, J., & Rennie, M. (2021). Student veterans’ experiences of a campus veterans center revealed through Photovoice. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 69(1), 46-60. https://doi.org/10.1080/07377363.2020.1813483 Show abstract
This phenomenological qualitative study employed Photovoice to investigate the experiences of college student service members and veterans (SSM/V) in relation to the transition from the military to higher education. Twelve participants took three photographs per day for seven days that reflected their everyday experiences as SSM/V. Individual interviews and focus groups engaged participants in a discussion of the meaning of the experiences represented in the photographs. Thematic analysis revealed that SSM/V experienced social disconnection upon returning from military service, that they viewed the campus military and veterans center (MVC) as a supportive environment, that newly assumed roles in the context of the MVC provided a new sense of identity and meaning, and that social connections with other veterans provided a key source of support. A campus MVC may serve as a valued campus resource for the development of new social networks and roles that support the successful transition for SSM/V.
Keywords. Photovoice, student service members and veterans, transition, well-being
Marin-Pardo, O., Laine, C. M., Rennie, M., Ito, K. L., Finley, J., & Liew, S.-L. (2020). A virtual reality muscle–computer interface for neurorehabilitation in chronic stroke: A pilot study. Sensors, 20(13), 3754. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20133754 Show abstract
Severe impairment of limb movement after stroke can be challenging to address in the chronic stage of stroke (e.g., greater than 6 months post stroke). Recent evidence suggests that physical therapy can still promote meaningful recovery after this stage, but the required high amount of therapy is difficult to deliver within the scope of standard clinical practice. Digital gaming technologies are now being combined with brain–computer interfaces to motivate engaging and frequent exercise and promote neural recovery. However, the complexity and expense of acquiring brain signals has held back widespread utilization of these rehabilitation systems. Furthermore, for people that have residual muscle activity, electromyography (EMG) might be a simpler and equally effective alternative. In this pilot study, we evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of an EMG-based variant of our REINVENT virtual reality (VR) neurofeedback rehabilitation system to increase volitional muscle activity while reducing unintended co-contractions. We recruited four participants in the chronic stage of stroke recovery, all with severely restricted active wrist movement. They completed seven 1-hour training sessions during which our head-mounted VR system reinforced activation of the wrist extensor muscles without flexor activation. Before and after training, participants underwent a battery of clinical and neuromuscular assessments. We found that training improved scores on standardized clinical assessments, equivalent to those previously reported for brain–computer interfaces. Additionally, training may have induced changes in corticospinal communication, as indexed by an increase in 12–30 Hz corticomuscular coherence and by an improved ability to maintain a constant level of wrist muscle activity. Our data support the feasibility of using muscle–computer interfaces in severe chronic stroke, as well as their potential to promote functional recovery and trigger neural plasticity.
Keywords: biofeedback; stroke; brain–computer interface; neurorehabilitation; corticomuscular coherence; electromyography; co-contraction; virtual reality
Eglseder, K., Webb, S., & Rennie, M. (2018). Sexual functioning in occupational therapy education: A survey of programs. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1446 Show abstract
Despite the importance of sexuality to overall quality of life and well-being for individuals with disabilities, occupational therapy practitioners continue to under-address this issue. One possibility for the lack of attention in this area is the comfort and knowledge level of practitioners. In their seminal work, Payne, Greer, and Corbin (1988) surveyed occupational therapy programs in the United States in an effort to identify the amount of sexuality education provided. This study was aimed at identifying current trends in the provision of sexuality education for occupational therapy students. Despite the nearly 30-year gap in this area of research, and the societal changes related to sexuality, findings suggest that there has been little advancement in the area of sexuality in occupational therapy curricula. Implications for occupational therapy practice and future education are discussed.