News Release

Dr. Xuan Liu receives Switzer Research Fellowship for mobility research in cerebral palsy

NIDILRR fellowship funds gait retraining research in children by Children's Specialized Hospital-Kessler Foundation postdoctoral fellow

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

Xuan Liu, Ph.D., Kessler Foundation

image: Dr. Xuan Liu is the postdoctoral fellow in pediatric mobility rehabilitation research at Children's Specialized Hospital-Kessler Foundation. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ. August 27, 2019. Xuan Liu, PhD, in the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, was awarded a 2019 Switzer Research Fellowship by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The $70,000 Merit Award funds "Biofeedback gait retraining for stiff knee gait correction: multi-joint adaptation in children with cerebral palsy," a collaborative research study with Children's Specialized Hospital (CSH) in Mountainside, New Jersey. Dr. Liu, a bioengineer, is a CSH-Kessler Foundation postdoctoral fellow supported by a Pediatric Mobility Rehabilitation Fellowship offered jointly through Children's Specialized Hospital and Kessler Foundation.

The purpose of the Switzer Research Fellow Program is to build research capacity by providing support to highly qualified individuals, including those with disabilities, to perform research on rehabilitation, independent living, and other experiences and outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Dr. Liu is the tenth young investigator from the Foundation's Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program to receive a prestigious Switzer Award, and the first to receive funding for research in children with disabilities, according to John DeLuca, PhD, senior vice president of research and training at the Foundation. "Once again, our training program has been recognized for excellence in rehabilitation research," said Dr. DeLuca. "As the latest in a long line of Switzer fellows, Dr. Liu has joined a select group of former Kessler fellows who built upon this early recognition of their talents to launch successful careers in rehabilitation research."

The most common cause of motor disability in childhood is cerebral palsy. Developing strategies to correct abnormal gait patterns is important to the ability of children with cerebral palsy to progress developmentally and maximize their ability to function independently in their daily lives. Dr. Liu's study focuses on 'stiff knee gait', a common gait pattern in children with cerebral palsy that has proved resistant to surgical and pharmacological interventions.

"We will test two types of biofeedback gait training--one with feedback on the knee alone, the other with sequential feedback on the knee and the hip," Dr. Liu explained. "Comparing the results of the two types of training in correcting stiff knee gait will help us to understand multi-joint adaptation in children with cerebral palsy. There is evidence for efficacy of the biofeedback intervention," she noted, referring to a pilot study conducted by the Foundation and Children's Specialized. "Moreover, the training could be delivered at a relatively low cost with this biofeedback system, which has the advantage of portability."

"With this Switzer Fellowship Award, NIDILRR recognizes the need for pediatric rehabilitation research aimed at improving the lives of children whose mobility is limited by gait abnormalities," added Michael Dribbon, PhD, Vice President of Business Development & Chief Innovation and Research Officer at Children's Specialized. "Understanding multi-joint adaptations is an important step toward more effective protocols for gait retraining for children with different motor deficits."


Funding source: National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, Grant #90SFGE0010-01-00.

Learn more about pediatric mobility research studies at Children's Specialized Hospital:

About Postdoctoral Fellowship Training

Since 1990, the Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program at Kessler Foundation has received substantial funding from federal and state agencies, private foundations, professional societies, and academic institutions. Through partnerships with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Children's Specialized Hospital, the program solicits and enrolls postdoctoral fellows from biomedical sciences and clinical rehabilitation disciplines, including biomechanics, physiology, psychology, psychiatry, neurology, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pediatrics, and rehabilitation engineering fields. The program prioritizes applicants from the fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation, rehabilitation sciences, rehabilitation engineering, and pediatric rehabilitation research.

Learn more about postdoctoral training opportunities:

Children's Specialized Hospital

Children's Specialized Hospital is the nation's leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges--from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At 13 different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and children can achieve more of their goals.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes--including employment--for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Learn more by visiting

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