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Interdisciplinary Movement Sciences Laboratory (IMSL)

Director: Cory L. Christiansen, PT, PhD

The IMSL is an interdisciplinary research laboratory that specializes in rehabilitation science and human movement research. An AEF grant awarded to Dr. Margaret Schenkman (IMSL Director) from the UC Denver School of Medicine in 2008 supported the development of shared research space to facilitate long-term collaborations and training opportunities in the field of Rehabilitation Science. The IMSL is shared by researchers from multiple Departments at UC Denver, with existing collaborative relationships among faculty in the Physical Therapy Program, Bioengineering Division of Orthopaedics, Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA), Division of Geriatrics, Integrative Medicine, Neurology, Endocrinology, and Internal Medicine. Use of IMSL resources is open to all School of Medicine faculty on a fee-for-service basis. Requests for support of new research protocols will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the IMSL Steering Committee.

Movement Strategies and Physical Activity after Dysvascular Amputation

Although it is well established that patients with dysvascular lower extremity amputation adopt different compensatory movement strategies in comparison to healthy patients, it is not understood what effects these compensatory strategies have on physical function. Clinicians cannot make decisions during rehabilitation regarding movement reinforcement or retraining without understanding of the relation between movement patterns and functional ability. This investigation provides the framework to develop interpretable measures that classify compensatory movement patterns and neural control strategies as either beneficial or detrimental using measures of muscle demand and muscle synergies.

Collaborative-care Rehabilitation to Improve Functional Outcomes after Dysvascular Amputation

Limitations in physical function are common following dysvascular major lower limb amputation. Traditional rehabilitation emphasizes prosthetic function, mobility/gait training, and targeted remediation of physical impairment, neglecting the underlying comorbidities and poor health self-management that contribute to dysvascular amputation. While physical impairments and functional limitation can show modest improvement across the course of rehabilitation after amputation, long-term functional outcomes are poor. This multi-site study uses a collaborative-care rehabilitation program combining traditional physical rehabilitation goals with patient self-management techniques to improve functional outcomes following dysvascular amputation.

Physical Function During Prosthetic Training and Long-Term Follow-up after Lower Limb Amputation

There is a limited amount of standardized physical function performance data for individuals recovering from dysvascular lower extremity amputation. Characterizing physical function and the influence of rehabilitation and comorbidity on functional recovery is a necessary next step to advance the care for people with non-traumatic lower limb amputation. The purpose of this study is to describe functional outcomes during and after rehabilitation for people with dysvascular lower limb amputation. The data gained will provide a basis for future studies aimed at developing a comprehensive rehabilitation strategy.

Physical Function Outcomes Related to Prosthetic Rehabilitation after Dysvascular Transtibial Amputation

Successful prosthetic rehabilitation depends on the critical time periods before and immediately after prosthesis fitting for patients with dysvascular transtibial amputation. Mediating physical impairments during the time surrounding prosthesis fitting through appropriate physical training can be vital to successful prosthetic rehabilitation. However, there is no consensus on optimal outcome measures to define successful prosthetic rehabilitation following dysvascular transtibial amputation. The purpose of this descriptive study is to characterize current physical function outcomes and physical training intervention before and during prosthetic rehabilitation.

Improving Function with Weight Bearing Biofeedback

Patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who undergo unilateral total knee arthroplasty (TKA) have asymmetrical movement patterns during function. These asymmetrical patterns persist, even after participation in rehabilitation programs designed to improve surgical limb strength, knee motion, and function. A characteristic of these altered movement patterns is weight-bearing (WB) asymmetry, with less weight placed on the surgical compared to the non-surgical limb. Such unresolved WB asymmetry may account for persistent weakness and functional deficits for patients following TKA. The major goals of this study are to determine the effects of a weight-bearing biofeedback intervention on functional weight bearing asymmetry during sit to stand transitions, gait, and stair climbing as well as on functional performance and strength recovery following total knee arthroplasty.

Lab Managers

Steering Committee



Affiliated Departments /

Programs & Investigators

Geriatric Medicine


Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation


General Internal Medicine


Integrative Medicine (UCH)

The IMSL is housed in 1725 sq ft of research space in Bldg 500 on the Anschutz Medical Campus.



Movement Analysis

Delsys Portable EMG monitor (x2)
Triaxial Accelerometer (x5)
Bertec1040 Force Platform (x2)
Optitrack Motion Capture System
Custom devices for measurement of spine & knee kinetics

Data Collection/Analysis

National Instruments DAQ
Data collection/analysis software
Laptop PC for field data collection
Desktop PC for lab data collection


Kincom Dynamometer
Electronics bench & tools
Clinical rehab equipment
Digitimer stimulator

Laboratory Equipment

The Interdisciplinary Movement Science Lab is fully equipped to measure human movement in both the laboratory and community settings:

An 8-camera Vicon Motion Analysis System and 2 Bertec force platforms embedded in a 12 m walkway provide kinetic and kinematic measures of human gait and other functional movements such as sitting, squatting, reaching, and jumping. Quantitative biomechanical models specific to the desired application can be developed using Vicon and Matlab analysis software.

Two 8-channel Delsys monitors provide electromyographic (EMG) measures of muscle activation. EMG data can be collected using telemetry or datalogger methods to facilitate wireless monitoring of muscle activity in the laboratory or community settings. Delsys monitors can also be used to collect other physiologic measures of physical activity including heart rate, respiration, limb acceleration, and step counts.

A Kincom isokinetic dynamometer provides force, velocity, and acceleration measures of single-plane dynamic limb movements. A variety of joints can be assessed including the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. Custom equipment for the assessment of spine kinetics is also available.

A variety of clinical rehabilitation equipment including a treadmill, upper extremity ergometer, stationary bicycle, and exercise plinths are available for clinical research.


IMSL equipment and resources are available to School of Medicine faculty and students on a fee for service basis. IMSL services include:

  • Consultation regarding experimental design and analysis for human movement studies
  • Review of proposals using IMSL resources
  • Assistance with preparation of IMSL aspects of COMIRB protocols
  • Training in the use of IMSL equipment
  • Scheduled use of IMSL facilities and equipment
  • Assistance with data collection and analysis

To request the support of IMSL resources, submit an IMSL Project Use Application to The application will be reviewed by the IMSL Steering Committee, and fees will be negotiated with the PI according to individual project needs.

The IMSL is a shared resource supported by grant funds from affiliated investigators. Limited support is available for pilot research projects that are not currently funded. It is expected that any pilot data collected with IMSL support will be used to apply for grant funding to support the continued use of IMSL resources after the pilot period has ended.

For more information, contact:

Cory Christiansen
(303) 724-9101

For more information about the application and review process please see the IMSL Application Process


Lab Address:

Anschutz Medical Campus
Bldg 500, Rm EG304
13001 E. 17th Place
Aurora, CO 80045    

Phone: 303-724-9104
Fax: 303-724-9016



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