SMIL Info

Kristen Pickett, PH.D.

Dr. Kristen Pickett is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She completed her B.S. in Biology at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. After focusing doctoral work on the use of f-MRI to examine individuals with idiopathic focal hand dystonia, she continued on to the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed a postdoctoral experience in the Program in Physical Therapy and the Movement Disorders section of the Department of Neurology. During her postdoc, she focused on exercise interventions for individuals with Parkinson disease and gait and balance characteristics of young people with Wolfram syndrome. Her current focus is on the use of collaborative and community-based research methods aimed at positively impacting meaningful health outcomes for older adults, especially those with Parkinson disease, who have limited access to effective forms of physical activity.

Sarah Zurawski, OTD, OTR/L

Sarah teaches in the UW-Madison’s Occupational Therapy program, focusing on pediatrics and professional skills. She received her undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy from UW-Madison in 2002 and her master’s in special education from UW-Whitewater in 2010. Sarah spent most of her clinical career working as a school-based occupational therapist where she provided services designed to support children’s participation in school related activities. Sarah has worked at the Waisman Center in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic and in home health care. She has a lifelong passion for working with people of all ages, and has been a personal care assistant to over ten elderly clients over the course of twenty years.
Sarah received her post professional doctorate degree in occupational therapy from UW-Madison in 2020. She joined Dr. Pickett’s Sensory Motor Integration Lab to explore occupational therapy’s role in supporting the psychosocial, well-being, and mental health needs of individuals living with Parkinson disease.
She lives outside of Madison with her two children and husband. She is a huge Badger fan!

Lab Staff

Anne Mortensen – Lab Manager

Anne is a research specialist/lab manager in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has continued to her learning via numerous graduate level courses through St Thomas University, Silver Lake College, University of North Dakota and Colorado State. Anne joined the SMIL team in 2021 and has a passion for connecting with participants and assisting the SMIL team with their efforts to make a positive impact on the daily lives of rural, elderly, and those with Parkinson disease. She lives in Madison and has three grown daughters. In her free time, she loves to be outdoors, gather with friends and family, attend events at Overture Center for the Arts, and watch Badger and Packer football.

Sondra Naxi – Research Specialist

Sondra is a full-time Research Specialist working on the MyActivity study.  She completed her master’s degree in Kinesiology from UW-Milwaukee in 2012 and was employed full-time as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Diagnostics until joining UW-Madison in 2022.  She is also a certified wellness coach and has held adjunct Kinesiology instructor positions with UW-Milwaukee.  Most of her spare time is spent enjoying outdoor adventure activities, including cycling, hiking, running, camping, and backpacking.  She enjoys spending time with her husband Oscar, two cats, and two beautiful nieces and volunteering with the local Girls on the Run program.

Laura Muller – Research Specialist

Laura received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. After many years as a researcher and lab manager in a variety of fields including genetics, epidemiology, and microbiology, she went on to complete her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from UW-Madison in 2019. In 2021 she joined the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab in the UW Kinesiology Department assisting with a study seeking to promote physical activity in breast and endometrial cancer survivors. Her work on this study now continues in the SMIL lab. Having herself grown up in rural Wisconsin, she looks forward to contributing to work in the SMIL lab that seeks to improve access to physical activity interventions and positively impact health outcomes of rural communities. Outside the lab, Laura volunteers as a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project, sings with the Madison Opera, drums with the Handphibians, and is always seeking new ways to make her baby giggle (currently it’s belly raspberries).

Vanessa Hodgson, LCSW, CSAC – Research Specialist

Vanessa is a part time research staff member working in the Physical Activity Epidemiology and the Sensory Motor Integration Labs. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from UW-Madison in 2007 and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor. Vanessa’s career started in community mental health, so she is particularly interested in serving individuals to help forge resources, achieve life satisfaction and build a sense of belonging in their community. Outside of the lab, Vanessa owns a private mental health practice and works as a psychotherapist, case manager, and clinical supervisor. Her primary service is to older adults and individuals with chronic illness or disabilities, utilizing telehealth to access adults living in rural areas throughout the state of Wisconsin. Vanessa’s research interests include advocating for improved healthcare access and treatment for vulnerable adults living in under-resourced communities. Other research interests include whole body wellness including the connection among nutrition, physical activity, mental health and overall wellbeing.

Graduate Students

Dr. Laura Andrea Prieto

Dr. Laura Andrea Prieto is currently a Primary Care Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health working with Dr. Kristen Pickett in the Department of Kinesiology. She completed her B.S. in Exercise Science at Loyola University Chicago and her Master’s at Syracuse University. Dr. Prieto then earned her Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a concentration on Motor Control and Behavior and adapted physical activity. She joined Dr. Pickett’s lab to explore the physical activity experiences of Latine adults with Parkinson disease and their care partners with the goal of creating a physical activity intervention that is meaningful and impactful for this population.

Dr. Prieto is from Bogotá, Colombia, and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. She enjoys dancing, being outdoors, and having “asados” or cookouts with family and friends.

David Qi

David is a second-year Master’s student in the Kinesiology department and is currently transitioning into the SMIL lab to pursue a PhD degree at UW-Madison. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, concentrating in Sports Medicine, from California Baptist University. Meanwhile, he worked with CBU Athletics in events management, specifically for the basketball teams. David’s research interests surround how orthopedic rehabilitation and various therapeutic interventions might be applied to treat Parkinson’s disease. He is enthusiastic about joining SMIL and learning from Dr. Pickett regarding the association between exercise and Parkinson’s. Outside of these, David enjoys watching and playing basketball, football, and soccer.

Katy Bray

Katy is a graduate student in the Occupational Sciences program where she will receive her master’s degree and eventually her Ph.D. from the Department of Kinesiology. Before receiving her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology: Exercise and Movement Science at UW-Madison, she found Dr. Pickett’s lab where she completed her practicum coursework. She enjoyed the SMIL so much that she returned to UW-Madison in Fall 2023. Katy’s interests lie in the biomechanics of OT and the specifics of gait and balance, which really just means she’s a detail-oriented numbers person who enjoys the physics of the human body. She also cares deeply for rural populations and older adults, undoubtedly connected to her upbringing in Wautoma, WI and Hancock, WI as well as her time spent working in nursing homes and retirement facilities. When she finds time, Katy loves wandering around Madison by foot, bicycle, or skateboard, as well as exploring old and new art mediums, and finding new music to listen to.

Abby Bradfield

Abby is an OTD student within the Kinesiology Department. After completing her OTD she will resume her PhD studies with Dr. Pickett in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab (SMIL) within the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her undergraduate degree and master’s degree at UW-Madison in rehabilitation psychology and kinesiology respectively. In 2018, she began working with Dr. Pickett and the SMIL team and loved the work so much that she never left! Her interests revolve around physical activity interventions, and how they can improve the quality of life in geriatric populations, more specifically underrepresented populations. Her career goals include completing her PhD in Kinesiology in the Occupational Science Track and completing her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy within the coming years.

Abdullah Alsaeed

Abdullah Alsaeed is a Ph.D. student in the Occupational Therapy Program in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He completed his bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy at King Saud University in June 2013 – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He received his master’s degree in health and rehabilitation science with a concentration in occupational therapy in April 2019 from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The broad scoop of Abdullah’s research with Dr. Pickett at the SMIL focuses on how occupational therapists can benefit individuals with Parkinson Disease (PD). Also, he focuses on the factors that predict fall and the programs that promote quality of life among older adults and their families, specifically individuals with PD. Abdullah admires Dr. Pickett’s efforts in answering the questions that remain unanswered in PD research. He believes that working in the lab will be valuable to him while he works on his dissertation and as he continues into his own independent research career.

Megan Agnew

Megan is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Population Health Sciences. Before joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she worked in the field of cancer research for several years and received her MPH in Epidemiology at Indiana University-Bloomington. Megan’s research aims to better understand the unmet needs of people living with cancer. She is interested in the role of supportive care programming, and specifically physical activity, to better the health and well-being of people living with cancer. She loves being outside and hiking with my dog and husband. She has also recently picked up cyclocross, which has been a great way to meet new folks in Madison and learn better bike handling skills.

Christian Schmidt

Christian is currently a PhD student and has an MS in epidemiology from UW–Madison. He has previously assisted in cardiology research at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and Lindner Research Center at The Christ Hospital. Christian is interested in the role of physical activity in preventative and behavioral medicine with a specific focus on chronic disease, organ transplant, and multimorbidity. Outside of class and the lab he enjoys trail running, canoeing, camping, or playing and watching sports.

Ashton Spritka

Ashton is a student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and a certificate in Education and Educational Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since joining the program, she has stepped into the role of secretary of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and is enjoying this leadership opportunity. She is excited to be a part of SMIL and looks forward to all of the learning experiences it will bring. Activities that she enjoys include spending time with her friends and family, discovering new restaurants, reading, and watching a good movie.

Kyra Neuser

Kyra is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and recently joined the SMIL team. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2020. Since joining the OTD program at UW – Madison, she has been involved with the student organization “Diverse-OT” as co-president. Upon graduation from the OTD program, she is hoping to practice in either an inpatient neuro or hands specialty setting. She is thrilled to begin getting involved in the research side of OT with the SMIL. Outside of graduate school, Kyra loves to explore new hiking trails, find new recipes to cook, watch movies with family and friends, and attempt crafty DIY projects.

Jessica Schmidt

Jessica Schmidt started as a volunteer in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab as an undergraduate in rehabilitation psychology and is now an occupational therapy doctorate student. She grew up in Viroqua, WI and initially became connected with the lab through her desire to better serve rural, older adult communities. From that point on she has been involved in various lab projects encouraging exercise for rural older adults and individuals with Parkinson disease. More recently, she has become interested in understanding caregiver experiences for people with Parkinson disease and providing caregivers with increased opportunities for support. Down the road, Jess envisions herself working as an occupational therapist in an acute or inpatient setting with neurological diagnoses but also staying connected to research through clinical partnership in the future. Outside of the lab, Jess is a devoted Badger football fan and enjoys playing competitive sports or being outdoors whenever she has the chance.

Paige Gresens

Paige is an Occupational Therapy doctoral student that became interested in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab because of its impact on rural communities and filling the gap in research for OTs role in Parkinson disease. Paige is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. In May of 2021, she graduated from UW- Milwaukee with a major in occupational science & technology and a minor in psychology. She is the professional development coordinator for a student-led organization on campus known as Diverse-OT. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her niece and nephew in Sun Prairie. Some interesting facts about her is that she is vegan, studied abroad in Botswana, and loves her dog, Meeka!

Becca Freitag

Becca is an Occupational Therapy doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is returning to school after receiving her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison in psychology in 2017. Becca is interested in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab because of her interest in telehealth and better serving rural communities. She is also very excited for the opportunity to be in a lab that is essentially leading the way in understanding the benefits of OT for individuals with Parkinson disease. Becca is also involved with Diverse-OT as co-president and serving as the WOTA representative on the SOTA board. When she graduates, Becca is currently thinking she would like to work in school-based OT, but she is open to having her mind changed and is seeking as many different opportunities as possible! In her free time, Becca enjoys spending time with family, playing board games with friends, and spending time outdoors.

Alex Furlow

Alex is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex is from Davis, California. He has experience teaching history and supporting diverse student populations in their academic endeavors. Occupational therapy experience is primarily with the pediatric popuation and he looks forward to exploring other areas of Occupational Therapy such as Veteran’s health. Alex became a member of SMIL team in the Fall of ‘22 and is involved in promoting exercise for rural older adults and individuals with Parkinson Disease. Alex enjoys hiking, wildlife photography, board gaming, and is an avid volleyball player.

Kendra Ison

Kendra is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She also earned her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison in Human Development and Family Studies.  Kendra was drawn to the SMIL lab due to the adult focused research.  She had previous research experience in pediatric autism but was very interested in getting into adult neurodivergent research.  Kendra became a member of Dr. Pickett’s SMIL team in the Fall of ‘22.   In the future she is not sure what areas of Occupational Therapy she plans to work in but she is interested in adult focused care, and specifically in areas of mental health or pelvic floor therapy. Outside of the classroom or research lab, Kendra loves to spend her time outdoors, cooking new recipes, and enjoying her family and friend’s company.  

Ashley Hoogheem

Ashley is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her B.S. in Kinesiology and her B.A. in Spanish Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Ashley is from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Since joining the program, she has been a member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA). She is excited to have this opportunity for hands-on research experience with the SMIL and looks forward to watching current projects continue to develop. Ashley has had a variety of experiences working with older adults, and is passionate about being involved in research that promotes wellness throughout the lifespan. While in school, she looks forward to exploring the different areas of practice in occupational therapy. Outside of the lab Ashley enjoys traveling, doing puzzles, dancing, and cooking.

Emily DeBoer

Emily is a student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Chicago at North Park University in Exercise Science – Kinesiology in 2022. Since starting the OTD program, she has taken on the role of secretary of Diverse-OT and is involved in the Student Occupational Therapy Association. Emily joined the SMIL lab in the Fall of 2022 and is excited to keep working on the current projects. In the future, Emily is unsure of which area of Occupational Therapy she wants to focus on but is thankful to be a part of a lab where she can learn more about Parkinson Disease and working with an adult population as most of her previous experience has been in pediatrics. Some of Emily’s favorite occupations include reading, playing volleyball, discovering new coffee shops and spending time with friends and family.

Lesley Thao

Lesley is an Occupational Therapy Doctorate student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has had experience working with the geriatrics population. Lesley is the second author to a systematic review looking at the needs of dementia caregivers across care settings. She is excited to explore the various fields and specialties that occupational therapy has to offer. Currently, Lesley wants to enhance her understanding of those with Parkinson disease to best assist them as a future practitioner. She looks forward to collaborating on projects within the Sensory Motor Integration Lab. Some of Lesley’s favorite occupations include doing digital art, journaling, playing on her ukelele or kalimba, and playing with her puppy, Eira.

Steph Shoaf

Steph is a student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she will graduate in 2026. She also completed her B.S. in Neurobiology with a certificate in Disability Rights & Services from UW-Madison. Steph is originally from the southwest suburbs of Chicago, but she loved her experience on campus as an undergraduate student that she decided to stay for another three years! Her prior research and work experience focused on children with autism, yet she is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the SMIL team researching adults. While in the OTD program, Steph is still looking to explore as many options as possible for her future practice. Currently, she has interest in working within either pediatrics or mental health. Among some of Steph’s favorite occupations are baking, reading, journaling, and watching movies with friends.

Rylie King

Rylie is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University in Athletic Training with a minor in Disability Studies. Rylie is passionate about adaptive sports and engaging in exercise across the lifespan. She hopes to work in Paralympic sports and eventually create her own inclusive sports facility. Rylie became a member of the SMIL team in the fall of ‘23 and is looking forward to the opportunities to participate in research with individuals with Parkinson Disease. Outside of academics, she enjoys reading a good book, watching sports, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.

Emily Neils

Emily is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the Spring of 2023, Emily earned her undergraduate degree from UW-Madison where she studied Human Development and Family Studies as well as Health Promotion and Health Equity. Throughout her time in Madison thus far, Emily has worked and volunteered in a variety of health care roles that have furthered her passion to pursue occupational therapy. One area that Emily is particularly interested in exploring is promoting mental health and wellbeing among older adults. Additionally, she is looking forward to learning more about Parkinson Disease and ways to best support the aging population throughout her time in the SMIL. As of now, Emily is uncertain about which specific area of OT she would like to practice in after graduating and she is eager to have opportunities to explore many different areas during her time as a student. Some of Emily’s favorite occupations include working on crafts, dancing, camping, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Annemarie Johnson

Annemarie is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the Spring of 2022, Annemarie earned her undergraduate degree from Edgewood College, where she studied Environmental Science with concentrations in geoscience and chemistry. During her time in Madison, Annemarie worked at Gio’s Garden, providing therapeutic respite care to children with disabilities, and helped train dogs to be guide dogs. Annemarie joined the SMIL lab in the fall of 2023 and is excited to work with those in rural communities. Outside of graduate school, Annemarie loves to spend time outside with her husband, swimming, biking, running, and exploring state and national parks.

Undergraduate Students

Delaney Smith

Delaney is an undergraduate student studying Human Development & Family Studies with a complimentary certificate in Global Health. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue her academic interests as a surgical physician assistant. She is excited to be working in the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab this year to delve deeper into learning about the impact of physical activity on individuals’ health and well-being. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time at her cottage, discovering new music, reading, and going for long walks.

Erin Oakley

Erin is an undergraduate student from Evanston, Illinois. She is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology and a certificate in Chicana/o & Latina/o studies. Erin has always been passionate about physical activity. Outside of school, she works as a certified personal trainer and Zumba instructor. She enjoys advancing her knowledge on this topic, and its relation to health and well-being, through her position as an undergraduate research assistant.

Fiona Fennelly

Fiona is an undergraduate student majoring in neurobiology with a certificate in global health at UW-Madison. Following graduation, she plans to pursue her master’s degree in applied statistics and data science. Fiona hopes to work within the public health sector in the future. She is excited to be a member of the Wisconsin Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab as she enjoys working hands on with participants and researching how physical activity can improve their overall quality of life and personal well-being. Outside of class, she enjoy thrifting, crocheting, and graphic design.

Izzy Hartel

Izzy is an undergraduate student studying Neurobiology at UW! After completing her undergraduate degree, Izzy hopes to continue her educational career and receive my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. From there, she hopes to complete a residency program and pursue a career as a neurologic physical therapist. She is very excited to be working in the PA Epidemiology lab, for she hopes to gain a better understanding of research techniques and the rehabilitative power of physical activity! Izzy is also excited to connect and work with such an amazing research team! Outside of the lab, she loves to spend time with friends, read, and be outdoors!

Yukie Xiong

Yukie is an undergraduate majoring in Health Promotion and Health Equity while also fulfilling certificates in Gender & Women Studies and Health Policy. Her plan for post-undergrad is to pursue a doctorate program in occupational therapy. As an undergrad researcher helping with the MyActivity Study, she loves hearing feedback from participants of the beneficiary effects of physical activity throughout the duration of the study. Through the lab, Yukie looks forward to continuing to learn about the different research components and effects of physical activity on a person’s well-being. Outside of school, she likes reading, trying new recipes, doing yoga, and spending time with friends and family.

Maren Schimek

Maren is an undergraduate student double majoring in Neurobiology and Health Promotion and Health Equity. After graduating, Maren is hoping to pursue graduate school in some realm of Public Health. Being a part of the PA Epi lab has helped her better understand which areas of public health she is interested in pursuing a career in and has helped reignite her love for physical activity. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring National and State parks, spending time with family and friends, and cuddling my cat.

Marla Ruzicka

Marla is an undergraduate studying Neurobiology at UW-Madison. After she earns her undergraduate degree, Maren would like to continue her education and go to Graduate School. Being a part of the PA Epidemiology Lab has introduced her to many aspects of research and helped her gain experience. She is interested in how physical activity affects our daily lives, specifically looking at brain activity. She has been able to connect the things she learned in the classroom to many lab experiences. Outside of school, she enjoys swimming, watching UW sports teams, and playing with her dog.

Sarah Fagan

Sarah is an undergraduate student at UW-Madison majoring in Kinesiology with a certificate in Athletic Healthcare. After graduation, she will begin physical therapy school with the intention of working with children. Sarah enjoys being a part of the Physical Activity Epidemiology lab because she gets to work with a great team along with researching exercise interventions for the population. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis and pickle ball, spending time with her friends, and traveling.

Seth Kendall

Seth is an undergraduate at UW-Madison majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a certificate in Athletic Healthcare. After graduation, he intends to go to med school in pursuit of becoming either a pediatrician or a trauma doctor. Seth enjoys being a part of the Physical Therapy Epidemiology Lab because he gets to work directly with participants and learn how physical activity can improve the longevity of life and overall well-being. Outside of class, he likes to spend his time hanging out with friends, exercising, and playing basketball.

Skylar Gothelf

Skylar is an undergraduate student majoring in Global Health with a certificate in Science Communications. After completing her degree here at UW, she hopes to attend PA school in the hopes of becoming a Physician’s Assistant specializing in pediatrics. As a member of the PA-Epi lab, Skylar has enjoyed researching the impacts of physical activity on individuals’ mental health and recovery rates from advanced illnesses. In her free time, Skylar enjoys going on walks along Lake Mendota, listening to live music, playing with her dog, and spending quality time with loved ones.

Volunteer Researchers

Michaela Gombar

Michaela graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 with degrees in Psychology and Spanish and certificates in Gender and Women’s Studies and Global Health. She currently works full time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health as a Graduate Medical Education Program Manager. Being involved in this lab is an amazing opportunity for her and combines her potential career interests of patient facing health occupations as well as health services research and data analysis. In her free time, Michaela enjoys volunteering with Agrace Hospice, serving as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, spending Wisconsin summers outdoors, and hanging out with her cats.

Lab Alumni

Julia Addis, Anastasia Bormann, Pete Brown, Monica Daleccio, Kecia Doyle, Sammie Gannon, Shanda Geil, Nina Hartsel, Kenny Kemp, Conner Marshall Helen Matsoff, Maria Mertzenich, McKenzie Meyer, Emily Noldin, Alicia Oestreich, Max Toepfer, Heidi Wagner, Allison Yingst

ONGOING RESEARCH SUPPORT

IN-HOME CYCLING FOR FALL PREVENTION IN INDIVIDUALS WITH PARKINSON DISEASE

Pickett (PI) UL1TR002373 and KL2TR002374 KL2 Award 2018–Ongoing
The long-term goal of this project is to improve outcomes for under-served populations of individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) by providing access to partnered in-home physical activity via a telehealth approach. The study will utilize the RE-AIM to focus on the reach and effectiveness of a 6-month triweekly in-home cycling program and then pilot a health coach model to promote maintenance for the subsequent 3-month period.

MULTI-SITE ADAPTIVE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INTERVENTION FOR BREAST & ENDOMETRIAL CANCER SURVIVORS

Pickett & Phillips (co-PIs) National Cancer Institute R37CA225877 2018–Ongoing
Despite the documented importance of physical activity for cancer survivorship, many breast and endometrial cancer survivors remain physically inactive. In contrast to the “one size fits all” approach used by most previous physical activity interventions for cancer survivors, this trial will test an adaptive intervention approach that integrates Fitbit data with the electronic health record (EHR) to produce a custom package of features to support behavior change. The results from this trial will inform the development of scalable physical activity interventions for breast and endometrial cancer survivors. Over 300 women were recruited. Approximately half of the participants were enrolled here in Wisconsin (must have been a UW Health patient) and the other half were enrolled at our partner site at Northwestern University.

Multi-site Adaptive Trial of a Technology-Based, EHR-Integrated Physical Activity Intervention in Breast and Endometrial Cancer Survivors (MyActivity)

Pickett (PI) Ongoing
Despite the documented importance of physical activity for cancer survivorship, many breast and endometrial cancer survivors remain physically inactive. In contrast to the “one size fits all” approach used by most previous physical activity interventions for cancer survivors, this trial will test an adaptive intervention approach that integrates Fitbit data with the electronic health record (EHR) to produce a custom package of features to support behavior change. The results from this trial will inform the development of scalable physical activity interventions for breast and endometrial cancer survivors. This study is a collaboration with Northwestern University and is funded by the National Cancer Institute. ​

COMPLETED RESEARCH SUPPORT

IN-HOME YOGA

Pickett (PI)
Andreae (Co-I)
1UL1TR002373, KL2TR002374 and K12HD101368
The purpose of this study was to learn if the Yoga for Seniors yoga program be successfully adapted and offered online. The study examined outcomes focused on fear of falls, social isolation, and activities of daily living for individuals living in a rural setting. This is a community-based program with partners including Paul Mross (developer of the yoga programming), five Wisconsin Aging and Disability Resource Centers, UW-Extension and the UW-Madison SMIL research team.

EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT ON EXERCISE OUTCOMES: IN-HOME CYCLING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH PARKINSON DISEASE

Pickett (PI) UW-Madison Fall Competition 2017 – 2019
This study will reach out to individuals in the community and take the intervention to them. As part of the study, we will travel to the homes of the enrolled individuals and install a custom-fit, recumbent bike in a safe and secure location. Individuals in the social cycling group will cycle with a member of the research staff joining them via Skype. The solo cycling group will adhere to an independent cycling program, while also using a provided recumbent bike.

CREATING NORMED AND VALIDATED VIRTUAL REALITY FALL-RISK ASSESSMENT SCENARIOS FOR HEALTHY OLDER ADULTS AND THOSE AT RISK OF FALLING

Mason & Pickett (co-PIs) NSF1815506 2018 – 2021
The overall goal of this research is to create normed and validated virtual reality fall-risk assessment scenarios capable of simulating everyday activities. The scenarios will be validated both on healthy older adults and on adults at risk of falling, to determine how to most effectively and efficiently characterize fall risk.

GLASSBLOWING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH PARKINSON DISEASE

Pickett & Lee (co- PIs) Grand Challenges 2017 – 2019
The primary purpose of this study is to measure the clinical, kinematic, and movement-based effects of an eight-week glassblowing intervention. Six individuals with PD will complete the 8-week training program with baseline and posttest assessment in the Sensory Motor Integration Lab.

YOGA FOR SENIORS

Pickett (PI) Bader Philanthropies 2018 – 2019
This study is designed to test the effectiveness of a chair-based yoga intervention on falls for community dwelling older adults in rural Wisconsin. As part of this study, certified yoga teachers in rural communities will train to teach a yoga for falls program that is well defined and reproducible. Following the 12-week intervention, we will examine fall rate, balance, and measures of activities of daily living as compared to a normal care control group.

LONGITUDINAL MRI BIOMARKERS IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE (LMPD)

Gallagher(PI)
Role: Co-investigator (Pickett)
VA MERIT 2017-2019
Higher volume of FLAIR hyperintensities are related to lower executive function in both PD and control populations but is specifically related to memory function in PD. In this renewal application, we plan to evaluate these candidate MRI biomarkers for white matter microstructural integrity in two new populations: Parsons with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) subjects, who are at high risk for developing PD, as well as untreated PD patients.

MULTIMODAL CLINICAL ASSESSMENT OF EARLY CRANIAL MOTOR DEFICITS IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Jones (PI)
Role: Consultant (Pickett)
F31 DC015709NIH 2016-2019
This study will characterize the relationships between cranial and limb motor variability in patients with early-stage PD with comparison to healthy controls. Motor variability has promise as a behavioral biomarker, illuminating subclinical changes in communication and swallowing function. Understanding relationships between cranial and limb motor systems gives the power to increase the sensitivity of overall motor evaluations in PD.

GLASSBLOWING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH PARKINSON DISEASE

Pickett & Lee (co-I) UW Graduate School Interdisciplinary Research Competition 2015-2016
The purpose of this proposal was to bridge the fields of glass art and movement science in order to better understand glassblowing as a movement-based practice. This project allowed us to establish our methodological approach for the larger, future endeavor of creating a glassblowing focused therapeutic intervention for individuals with movement disorders, such as Parkinson disease.

REACHING OUT TO UNDERSERVED WOMEN IN RURAL WISCONSIN WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND TECHNOLOGY

Pickett (PI) Virginia Horne Henry 2016-2018
This study examined the effects of four months of tri-weekly in-home exercise on a small sample of rural Wisconsin women over the age of 65. This intervention allowed for the individuals enrolled to participate in regular exercise with the added benefits of socially motivated activity, which promotes cognitive engagement, socialization and introduces a level of meaningfulness to the exercise session that is not inherently present in the task alone.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF CONCUSSION ON FEMALE ATHLETES

 Pickett (PI) Virginia Horne Henry 2015-2018
This proposal was aimed at addressing an area of physical activity research that has been largely ignored despite the recent uptick in concussion studies. Female athletes are at increased risk of concussion and exhibit symptoms that may persist for longer durations and impede daily functioning. This study examines the effects of sport-related repeated mild traumatic brain injury on balance, gait and activities of daily living in a small group of women to compare them to a group of age and activity matched females.

NEUROPHYSIOLOGIC ADAPTATIONS TO FIVE DAYS OF TANGO DANCING IN INDIVIDUALS WITH PARKINSON DISEASE

Pickett (PI) Parkinson Study Group/Parkinson Disease Foundation – Mentored Clinical Research Award 2012 – 2013
The primary purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of the neurophysiologic adaptations, which occur following short duration, intensive tango dance training in individuals with Parkinson disease.

EXERCISE AND PARKINSON’S: COMPARING INTERVENTIONS AND EXPLORING NEURAL MECHANISMS

Earhart (PI)
Role: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Pickett)
R01 NS077959 2012-2013
The primary aims of this study were to compare the effects of three community-based exercise programs on locomotor function and to determine whether and how these interventions altered the function and connectivity of locomotor control networks in the brain.
Earhart & Pickett (Co-PI) The Greater St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association 2012 – 2013
The primary focus of this award was to compare clinical improvement as well as changes in brain function in people with PD who completed different forms of exercise interventions, specifically tango dancing versus treadmill walking.

MULTIMODAL CLINICAL ASSESSMENT OF EARLY CRANIAL MOTOR DEFICITS IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Jones (PI)
Role: Consultant (Pickett)
F31 DC015709NIH 2016-2019
This study will characterize the relationships between cranial and limb motor variability in patients with early-stage PD with comparison to healthy controls. Motor variability has promise as a behavioral biomarker, illuminating subclinical changes in communication and swallowing function. Understanding relationships between cranial and limb motor systems gives the power to increase the sensitivity of overall motor evaluations in PD.

RS-FCMRI NEUROIMAGING METHODS IN PARKINSON DISEASE

Earhart (PI)
Role: Co-investigator (Pickett)
American Parkinson Disease Association 2011-2014
The goal of this project was to develop and implement resting state functional connectivity methods including the use of field maps to allow for study of specific brainstem structures including the pedunculopontine nucleus.

For a complete and up-to-date list of Dr. Pickett’s publications, please visit this website.

TANGO THERAPY – 2018

Dr. Pickett finds that Tango Therapy rejuvenates Parkinson’s disease patients. Click on the video below to watch!MADISON (WKOW) — A class through the University of Wisconsin is putting a different spin on exercise treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Read the full article here.

MOVING FORWARD – 2017

Moving Forward is a monthly support and information group for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, tremor and other movement disorders. Dr. Pickett presented in the 2017 Moving Forward series.View presentation slides  |  View resource handout

View other Moving Forward past presentations here.

GLASS BLOWING – 2015

Dr. Picket examines new ways to help those with Parkinson’s disease. A unique glass art project is just one example of her innovative work. Click on the picture below to read the article in the 2015 edition of OT Matters.

You can also find the School of Education article here. And the Learning Connections article on pg. 7 here.