Motor Control and Rehabilitation

Research Overview

Research in the Galea laboratory encompasses basic neuroscience research in both animals and humans, and clinical research on the control of movement in healthy and impaired populations, including those with spinal cord injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

Our work in spinal cord injury is concerned with investigating the effects of exercise directed towards the limbs below the level of injury. The use of functional electrical stimulation to improve the health of peripheral nerves is also being evaluated.

We have introduced low cost technology into clinical practice to improve upper limb function after stroke or other neurological injury. Non-invasive brain stimulation has been used to assist in the control of pain in patients with multiple sclerosis. 3-D gait analysis has been used to investigate the functional effects of botulinum toxin injections for lower limb spasticity. Our group is working with engineers to realise the potential of measurement and modelling for more effective individualized management of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system, and the development and use of wearable sensors to measure function.

A longitudinal study is being undertaken to track changes in motor function over time in patients with early multiple sclerosis and healthy controls, and to develop more sensitive measures of motor dysfunction that can be used to guide clinical management or as markers of treatment effect in clinical trials.

We have also examined some of the factors contributing to an increased incidence of deformational plagiocephaly in infants, and unexpected outcome of the introduction of the Back to Sleep program endorsed by the American Academy of  Pediatrics to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.  Our analysis of the development of head control in the infant provides a theoretical basis for the mechanism of plagiocephaly, so that the problem can be reframed and a rationale provided for a new approach to prevention that focuses on child factors rather than simply external factors. A  Fact Sheet that provides advice to parents of newborn infants may assist in this process.


  • Dr Aurora Messina, Senior Research Fellow
  • Dr Maya Panisset, Research Fellow


  • Professor Fary Khan, Director of Rehabilitation, Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, Melbourne Neurocience Institute
  • Dr Andrew Nunn, Victorian Spinal Cord Service
  • Ms Natasha Van Zyl, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Austin Health
  • Dr Eduardo Cofre Lizama, LA Trobe University
  • Dr Elizabeth Williams
  • Professor Peter Lee, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr David Ackland, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Denny Oetomo, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne


  • NHMRC Project Grant, Can real-time biofeedback of foot clearance be used to assist with gait rehabilitation following stroke?
  • MS Research Australia, Technology to track gait and balance deterioration in people with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis
  • Transport Accident Commission and Wings For Life, Reversing peripheral nerve dysfunction using functional electrical stimulation after spinal cord injury.

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Honours students, Post Doctor Researchers to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

  1. Cofré Lizama LE, Bruijn SM, Galea MP. Gait stability at early stages of multiple sclerosis using different data sources. Gait Posture 2020; 77:214-217. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2020.02.006
  2. Cofré Lizama LE, Bastani A, van der Walt A, Kilpatrick T, Khan F, Galea MP. Increased ankle muscle coactivation in the early stages of multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin 2020; 6(1): 2055217320905870. doi: 10.1177/2055217320905870.
  3. Robinson D, Safai L, Harandi VJ, Graf M, Cofré Lizama LE, Lee PV, Galea MP, Khan F, Tse KM. Load response of an osseointegrated implant used in the treatment of unilateral transfemoral amputation: An early implant loosening case study. Clin Biomech 2020; 73:201-212. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2020.01.017
  4. Galea MP. Is task-oriented training effective for children with developmental coordination disorder? A Cochrane Review summary with commentary. Dev Med Child Neurol 2020;62(2):160-162.
  5. Harandi VJ, Ackland DC, Haddara R, Cofre Lizama LE, Graf M, Galea MP, Lee PV. Gait compensatory mechanisms in unilateral transfemoral amputees. Med Eng Phys 2020;  77:95-106. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2019.11.006.
  6. Amatya B, Khan F, Galea M. Effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions for people with multiple sclerosis – A Cochrane Review summary with commentary. NeuroRehabilitation 2019; 45(3):429-431.
  7. Amatya B, Lee SY, Galea MP, Khan F. Disaster rehabilitation response plan: Now or never. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2019 Aug 28. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001308. [Epub ahead of print]
  8. Amatya B, Khan F, Windle I, Lowe M, Galea MP. Evaluation of a technology-assisted enriched environmental activities programme for upper limb function: a randomized controlled trial. J Rehabil Med. 2020;52(1):jrm00003. doi: 10.2340/16501977-2625.
  9. Eldridge BJ, Galea MP, Kissane A, Broder JC, Brilleman SL, Wolfe R, Williams G.  High-Level Mobility Assessment Tool (HiMAT) normative values for children. Physical Therapy 2020; 100(2):324-331. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzz168.
  10. Amatya B, Cofré Lizama LE, Elmalik A, Bastani A, Galea MP, Khan F. Multidimensional evaluation of changes in limb function following botulinum toxin injection in persons with stroke. NeuroRehabilitation. 2019; 45(1):67-78.
  11. Begg R, Galea MP, James L, Sparrow T, Levinger P, Khan F, Said C. Real-time foot clearance biofeedback to assist gait rehabilitation following stroke: a randomised controlled trial protocol. Trials 2019; 20(1):317
  12. Silberstein M, Nunn AK, Drummond P, Wan DWL, Alexander J, Millard M, Galea MP. A human sensory pathway connecting the foot to ipsilateral face that partially bypasses the spinal cord. Front Neurosci 2019;13:519.
  13. Van Zyl N, Hill B, Cooper C, Hahn J, Galea MP. Nerve transfers for the restoration of upper limb function in tetraplegia: Expanding on traditional tendon-based techniques in a prospective case series. Lancet 2019; 394(10198):565-575.
  14. Cofré Lizama LE, Khan F, Galea MP. Beyond speed: Gait changes after Botulinum Toxin injections in chronic stroke survivors (a systematic review). Gait and Posture 2019; 70:389-396
  15. Desneves KJ, Panisset MG, Rafferty J, Rodi H, Ward LC, Nunn A, Galea MP. Comparison of estimated energy requirements using predictive equations with total energy expenditure measured by the doubly labelled water method in acute spinal cord injury/ Spinal Cord 2019; 57(7):562-570.
  16. Amatya B, Khan F, Galea M. Rehabilitation for people with multiple sclerosis: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2019, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD012732.
  17. Khan F, Amatya B, de Groote W, Owolabi M, Syed IM, Hajjoui A, Babur MN, Sayed TM, Frizzell Y, Naicker AS, Fourtassi M, Elmalik A, Galea MP. Capacity-building in clinical skills of rehabilitation workforce in low- and middle-income countries. J  Rehabil Med 2018; 50(5):472-479.
  18. Cofré Lizama LE, Bastani A, Panisset M, Drummond K, Khan F, Galea MP. A novel neuromodulation technique for the rehabilitation of balance and gait: a case study. J Clin Neurosci 2018;  54:140-142.
  19. Galea MP, Dunlop SA, Geraghty T, Davis GM, Olenko L and SCIPA Full-On Trial Collaborators. SCIPA Full-On: a randomised controlled trial comparing intensive whole body exercise and upper body exercise after spinal cord injury. Neurorehabil Neural Repair 2018; 32:557-567.
  20. Meyer C, Bendella H, Rink S, Gensch R, Seitz R, Stein G, Manthou M, Papamitsou T, Nakamura M, Bouillon B, Galea M, Batchelor P, Dunlop S, Angelov D. The effect of myelotomy following low thoracic spinal cord compression injury in rats. Exp Neurol 2018; 306:10-21.
  21. Bastani A, Cofré Lizama LE, Zoghi M, Blashki G, Davis S, Kaye A, Khan F, Galea MP. The combined effect of cranial-nerve non-invasive neuromodulation with high-intensity physiotherapy on gait and balance in a patient with cerebellar degeneration: A case report. Cerebellum and Ataxias 2018; 5:6.
  22. Khan F, Owolabi MO, Amatya B, Hamzat TK, Ogunniyi A, Oshinowo H, Elmalik A, Galea MP. Challenges and barriers for implementation of the World Health Organisation Global Disability Action Plan in low- and middle-income countries. J Rehabil Med 2018; 50(4):367-376.
  23. Galea MP, Cofré Lizama LE, Bastani A, Panisset M,G, Khan F. Cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation improves gait and balance in stroke survivors: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Brain Stimulation 2017; 10:1133-1135.
  24. Shanahan CJ, Boonstra F, Cofre Lizama E, Strik M, Moffat B, Khan F, Kilpatrick T, Van Der Walt A, Galea MP, Kolbe S. Technologies for advanced gait and balance assessments in people with multiple sclerosis. Frontiers in Neurology. 2018;8:708.
  25. Rank MM, Galea MP, Callister R, Callister RJ. Is more always better? How different 'doses' of exercise after incomplete spinal cord injury affects the membrane properties of deep dorsal horn interneurons. Exp Neurol 2018;300:201-211.
  26. Panisset MG, Desneves K, Ward LC, Rafferty J, Rodi H, Nunn A, Brown D, El-Ansary D, Galea MP. Bedside assessment of fat-free mass and fat mass in acute spinal cord injury using bioelectrical impedance analysis – a psychometric study. Spinal Cord 2017; 56(4):355-365.
  27. Zoghi M, Galea MP. EMG-triggered stimulation post spinal cord injury: a case report. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 2018; 34(4):309-315
  28. Galea MP, Cofré Lizama LE, Bastani A, Panisset MG, Khan F. Cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation improves gait and balance in stroke survivors: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Brain Simul. 2017 Nov - Dec;10(6):1133-1135
  29. Amatya B, Khan F, Galea MP. Optimising post-acute care in breast cancer survivors: a rehabilitation perspective. J Multidiscip Healthc 2017 Aug 30;10:347-357.
  30. Young J, Amatya B, Galea MP, Khan F. Chronic pain in multiple sclerosis: a 10-year longitudinal study. Scand J Pain 2017; 16:198-203.

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Group Leader Professor Mary Galea AM

Department / Centre


Unit / Centre

Motor Control and Rehabilitation

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