Miranda Donnelly MS, OTR/L
Faculty Mentor: Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L
Research Lab: Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab
Year of Entry: 2019
I am interested in innovations that serve people with neurologic conditions and support their everyday needs through meaningful engagement with technology. In the Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab, I support research projects that leverage technology to enhance stroke rehabilitation, including the development and testing of a game-based telerehabilitation muscle-computer interface that provides electromyography (EMG) biofeedback for chronic stroke survivors with upper extremity hemiparesis. Additionally, I help manage the stroke lesion segmentation and processing pipeline for the ENIGMA Stroke Recovery working group, which uses large datasets of post-stroke brain images to study how brain structural changes influence function after stroke.
As an occupational scientist and therapist with clinical experience in adult neurologic rehabilitation, I value holistic rehabilitation. The sensorimotor, cognitive, psychological, social, and emotional recovery domains are complexly interwoven into the fabric of identity. When traditional rehabilitation approaches these domains separately, I believe we miss opportunities for people to have a deeper sense of alignment between their pre and post injury sense of self and belonging. My career interest is to study the intersection of technology, health, and occupation to empower people to live meaningful lives that reflect their values and identity.
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
Liew, S.-L., Schweighofer, N., Cole, J. H., Zavaliangos-Petropulu, A., Lo, B. P., Han, L. K., Hahn, T., Schmaal, L., Donnelly, M. R., Jeong, J. N., Wang, Z., Abdullah, A., Kim, J. H., Hutton, A. M., Barisano, G., Borich, M. R., Boyd, L. A., Brodtmann, A., Buetefisch, C. M., Byblow, W. D., Cassidy, J. M., Charalambous, C. C., Ciullo, V., Bastos Conforto, A., Dacosta-Aguayo, R., DiCarlo, J. A., Domin, M., Dula, A. N., Egorova-Brumley, N., Feng, W., Geranmayeh, F., Gregory, C. M., Hanlon, C. A., Hayward, K., Holguin, J. A., Hordacre, B., Jahanshad, N., Kautz, S. A., Khlif, M. S., Kim, H., Kuceyeski, A., Lin, D. J., Liu, J., Lotze, M., MacIntosh, B. J., Margetis, J. L., Mataro, M., Mohamed, F. B., Olafson, E. R., Park, G., Piras, F., Revill, K. P., Roberts, P., Robertson, A. D., Sanossian, N., Schambra, H. M., Seo, N. J., Soekadar, S. R., Spalletta, G., Stinear, C. M., Taga, M., Tang, W. K., Thielman, G. T., Vecchio, D., Ward, N. S., Westlye, L. T., Winstein, C. J., Wittenberg, G. F., Wolf, S. L., Wong, K. A., Yu, C., Cramer, S. C., & Thompson, P. M. (2023). Association of brain age, lesion volume, and functional outcome in patients with stroke. Neurology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000207219 Show abstract
Background and objectives. Functional outcomes after stroke are strongly related to focal injury measures. However, the role of global brain health is less clear. Here, we examined the impact of brain age, a measure of neurobiological aging derived from whole brain structural neuroimaging, on post-stroke outcomes, with a focus on sensorimotor performance. We hypothesized that more lesion damage would result in older brain age, which would in turn be associated with poorer outcomes. Related, we expected that brain age would mediate the relationship between lesion damage and outcomes. Finally, we hypothesized that structural brain resilience, which we define in the context of stroke as younger brain age given matched lesion damage, would differentiate people with good versus poor outcomes.
Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional observational study using a multi-site dataset of 3D brain structural MRIs and clinical measures from ENIGMA Stroke Recovery. Brain age was calculated from 77 neuroanatomical features using a ridge regression model trained and validated on 4,314 healthy controls. We performed a three-step mediation analysis with robust mixed-effects linear regression models to examine relationships between brain age, lesion damage, and stroke outcomes. We used propensity score matching and logistic regression to examine whether brain resilience predicts good versus poor outcomes in patients with matched lesion damage.
Results. We examined 963 patients across 38 cohorts. Greater lesion damage was associated with older brain age (β=0.21; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.38, P=0.015), which in turn was associated with poorer outcomes, both in the sensorimotor domain (β=-0.28; 95% CI: -0.41, -0.15, P<0.001) and across multiple domains of function (β=-0.14; 95% CI: -0.22, -0.06, P<0.001). Brain age mediated 15% of the impact of lesion damage on sensorimotor performance (95% CI: 3%, 58%, P=0.01). Greater brain resilience explained why people have better outcomes, given matched lesion damage (OR=1.04, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.08, P=0.004).
Conclusions. We provide evidence that younger brain age is associated with superior post-stroke outcomes and modifies the impact of focal damage. The inclusion of imaging-based assessments of brain age and brain resilience may improve the prediction of post-stroke outcomes compared to focal injury measures alone, opening new possibilities for potential therapeutic targets.
Donnelly, M. R., Phanord, C. S., Marin-Pardo, O., Jeong, J., Bladon, B., Wong, K., Abdullah, A., & Liew, S.-L. (2023). Acceptability of a telerehabilitation biofeedback system among stroke survivors: A qualitative analysis. OTJR: Occupational Therapy Journal of Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1539449223115 Show abstract
Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback delivered via telerehabilitation can increase access to occupational therapy services for stroke survivors with severe impairment, but there is limited research on its acceptability. This study identified factors influencing the acceptability of a complex, muscle biofeedback system (Tele-REINVENT) for upper extremity sensorimotor stroke telerehabilitation among stroke survivors. We conducted interviews with stroke survivors (n = 4) who used Tele-REINVENT at home for 6 weeks and analyzed the data with reflexive thematic analysis. Biofeedback, customization, gamification, and predictability affected the acceptability of Tele-REINVENT among stroke survivors. Across themes, features and experiences that gave participants agency and control were more acceptable. Our findings contribute to the design and development of at-home EMG biofeedback interventions, which can improve access to advanced occupational therapy treatment options for those who need it most.
Donnelly, M. R., Fukumura, Y. E., & Richter, M. (2022). Untapped sources of contextualized knowledge: Exploring occupational disruption during COVID-19 as showcased through YouTube parodies. Journal of Occupational Science, 29(3), 417-429. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2021.1991841 Show abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic led to stay-at-home mandates and lockdowns around the globe. During this time of occupational disruption and social distancing measures, many engaged through online environments. Social media are ever-increasing hosts of occupation and participation, rich with research opportunities. In this study, we explored COVID-19 experiences by analyzing parody videos posted on YouTube by various content creators. We analyzed the lyrics of 27 viral videos (accrued 1 million or more views) by 20 content creators. Using a transactional framework, we identified five themes related to occupational disruption in the lyrics and explored the polarity of the concepts within each theme: old norms vs. new normal, time expanded vs. time condensed, control seeking vs. lack of control, social isolation vs. excess socialization, and cynicism vs. hope. Our findings demonstrated the complex transactions between previous habits and routines, changing spaces of occupation, and meaning of daily occupations within evolving social, economic, and physical contexts. While this study showcased YouTube videos as one untapped source of contextualized knowledge for occupational science, there is a need for further exploration of methodological and ethical challenges of studying digital content.
Zavaliangos-Petropulu, A., Lo, B., Donnelly, M. R., Schweighofer, N., Lohse, K., Jahanshad, N., Barisano, G., Banaj, N., Borich, M. R., Boyd, L. A., Buetefisch, C. M., Byblow, W. D., Cassidy, J. M., Charalambous, C. C., Conforto, A. B., DiCarlo, J. A., Dula, A. N., Egorova-Brumley, N., Etherton, M. R., Feng, W., Fercho, K. A., Geranmayeh, F., Hanlon, C. A., Hayward, K. S., Hordacre, B., Kautz, S. A., Khlif, M. S., Kim, H., Kuceyeski, A., Lin, D. J., Liu, J., Lotze, M., MacIntosh, B. J., Margetis, J. L., Mohamed, F. B., Piras, F., Ramos-Murguialday, A., Revill, K. P., Roberts, P. S., Robertson, A. D., Schambra, H. M., Seo, N. J., Shiroishi, M. S., Stinear, C. M., Soekadar, S. R., Spalletta, G., Taga, M., Tang, W. K., Thielman, G. T., Vecchio, D., Ward, N. S., Westlye, L. T., Werden, E., Winstein, C., Wittenberg, G. F., Wolf, S. L., Wong, K. A., Yu, C., Brodtmann, A., Cramer, S. C., Thompson, P. M., & Liew, S.-L. (2022). Chronic stroke sensorimotor impairment is related to smaller hippocampal volumes: An ENIGMA analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association, 11(10), e025109. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.025109 Show abstract
Background. Persistent sensorimotor impairments after stroke can negatively impact quality of life. The hippocampus is vulnerable to poststroke secondary degeneration and is involved in sensorimotor behavior but has not been widely studied within the context of poststroke upper-limb sensorimotor impairment. We investigated associations between non-lesioned hippocampal volume and upper limb sensorimotor impairment in people with chronic stroke, hypothesizing that smaller ipsilesional hippocampal volumes would be associated with greater sensorimotor impairment.
Methods and Results. Cross-sectional T1-weighted magnetic resonance images of the brain were pooled from 357 participants with chronic stroke from 18 research cohorts of the ENIGMA (Enhancing NeuoImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Stroke Recovery Working Group. Sensorimotor impairment was estimated from the FMA-UE (Fugl-Meyer Assessment of Upper Extremity). Robust mixed-effects linear models were used to test associations between poststroke sensorimotor impairment and hippocampal volumes (ipsilesional and contralesional separately; Bonferroni-corrected, P<0.025), controlling for age, sex, lesion volume, and lesioned hemisphere. In exploratory analyses, we tested for a sensorimotor impairment and sex interaction and relationships between lesion volume, sensorimotor damage, and hippocampal volume. Greater sensorimotor impairment was significantly associated with ipsilesional (P=0.005; β=0.16) but not contralesional (P=0.96; β=0.003) hippocampal volume, independent of lesion volume and other covariates (P=0.001; β=0.26). Women showed progressively worsening sensorimotor impairment with smaller ipsilesional (P=0.008; β=−0.26) and contralesional (P=0.006; β=−0.27) hippocampal volumes compared with men. Hippocampal volume was associated with lesion size (P<0.001; β=−0.21) and extent of sensorimotor damage (P=0.003; β=−0.15).
Conclusions. The present study identifies novel associations between chronic poststroke sensorimotor impairment and ipsilesional hippocampal volume that are not caused by lesion size and may be stronger in women.
Donnelly, M. R., Reinberg, R., Ito, K. L., Saldana, D., Neureither, M., Schmiesing, A., Jahng, E., & Liew, S.-L. (2021). Virtual reality for the treatment of anxiety disorders: A scoping review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(6), 7506205040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.046169 Show abstract
Importance. Virtual reality in head-mounted displays (HMD-VR) may be a valuable tool in occupational therapy to address anxiety. Findings from the virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) literature may facilitate translation of HMD-VR to occupational therapy psychosocial practice.
Objective. To explore how HMD-VR has been used to treat anxiety through VRET and could be translated to occupational therapy.
Data Sources. We searched seven electronic databases for articles published between 2000 and 2020: CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, ERIC, Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Web of Science. Search terms included HMD-VR constructs, products, and therapy concepts.
Study Selection and Data Collection. We used Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to report studies implementing VRET to treat anxiety. At least two reviewers assessed each citation, and a third resolved disagreements. Articles were included if they were in English, reported experimental data, and used HMD-VR. Letters, commentaries, book chapters, technical descriptions, theoretical papers, conference proceedings (≤4 pages), and reviews were excluded.
Findings. Twenty-eight studies used HMD-VR to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (n = 3), specific phobias (n = 19), and performance-based social anxiety (n = 6); protocols and levels of evidence varied (randomized controlled trials, n = 11; controlled trials without randomization, n = 6; case–control or cohort studies, n = 11). Qualitative examination indicates HMD-VR is an effective treatment tool.
Conclusions and Relevance. HMD-VR can be a valuable tool for occupational therapy to simulate environments where clients with anxiety disorders participate. Eliciting presence through multisensory features and body representation may enhance outcomes.
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.