Faculty Directory
Julius P. A. Dewald

Professor of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences

Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Professor of Biomedical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

312-908-6788Email Julius P. A. Dewald


Neuro Imaging and Motor Control Lab


Biomedical Engineering


Master of Science in Robotics Program


BS: Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, 1978

MS: Neurophysiology and Rehabilitation Medicine , Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, 1980

PhD: Neurophysiology & Biophysics, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, 1992

Research Interests

Quantification of motor impairments following brain injury due to stroke or cerebral palsy and development of neuroscientific models to understand these impairments as well as to develop science-based physical and pharmacological rehabilitation interventions.

As Professor and Chair of Northwestern University’s Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences (PTHMS) and Professor in Biomedical Engineering, I have the opportunity to combine neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, imaging and signal analysis techniques, rehabilitation robotics and clinical insights to advance the scientific understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying movement disorders following central nervous system lesions in individuals with stroke and cerebral palsy. My colleagues and I are funded largely through awards from the NIH, the Department of Education (NIDRR) and the American Heart Association (AHA).

Ongoing Projects in the Neuroimaging and Motor Control Laboratories at PTHMS

Our Neuroimaging and Motor Control Laboratories are dedicated to understanding motor recovery following stroke, in learning the role of brain plasticity in recovery, and in developing novel therapeutic training techniques to improve arm function following cerebrovascular accident. Our research is directed towards adults who have had a stroke as well as children with spastic hemiparetic cerebral palsy. While our research efforts are integrative, it can be sectioned and described in the context of Neuroimaging, Impairment Quantification, Neural Machine Interface, Intervention Studies, Device Development, Clinical Outcome Correlations, and Research Registries. The following descriptions summarize each component at use in the Neuroimaging and Motor Control Laboratories.

Neuroimaging: Cortical reorganization following brain injury is being investigated in our laboratories with three techniques: multi-channel EEG recordings in conjunction with anatomical MRI, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in conjunction with anatomical MRI, functional MRI, and Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Through these investigations, we seek to illustrate the difference in somatotopic organization between normal and injured brains. Significant differences will support the premise that abnormal movement constraints observed in individuals with hemiparesis post stroke or cerebral palsy are due to reorganization of the brain following brain injury.

Neural Machine Interface: A substantial percentage of individuals after stroke are not able to use their paretic hand 6 months following a stroke. Presently, there are no effective therapeutic methods that can successfully restore hand function in moderately to severely impaired individuals with stroke. This population would greatly benefit from a neuroprosthesis as an artificial means to regain hand function. A Neural-Machine-Interface (NMI) together with Neural Electrical Stimulation (NES) can detect user intent and convert the associated neural activity into control commands. Our goal is to design and translate NMI and NES techniques for regaining basic hand function following Stroke.

Impairment Quantification: The recovery process from stroke is characterized by the emergence of stereotypic multi-joint movement patterns that reflect a loss of independent joint control at both the arm and leg. Recent evidence has also suggested discoordination at the level of the trunk. Utilizing quantitative techniques, we aim to elucidate the role of abnormal neural constraints in upper and lower limb and trunk discoordination following hemiparetic stroke.

Intervention Studies: A translational model is implemented in our laboratories such that new findings from the more basic science investigations have been applied to the development of interventions that target the loss of independent joint control. This work began with isometric strengthening interventions and have progressed into dynamic coordination and strengthening interventions utilizing novel science-based robotic devices.

Device Development: Quantifying movement impairment is critical not only to basic investigation of motor control and stroke/Cerebral Palsy recovery but also to precise clinical evaluation and effective treatment. We are currently working on both passive and actively actuated robotic devices for these purposes. While sophisticated and expensive devices dominate our research laboratory, scaled down less expensive yet robust devices are under development for real clinical practice.

Clinical Outcomes Correlations: We are validating our quantitative measures of impairment with clinical assessments across the spectrum of the International Classification of Disease and Functioning (ICF).

Research Registries: We currently operate a national registry for children with cerebral palsy who are interested in participating in clinical research. The registry not only connects families with current research but also allows for outcomes studies of this cohort.

Selected Publications

  • Plaisier, Thomas A.M.; Acosta, Ana Maria; Dewald, Julius P.A., A Method for Quantification of Stretch Reflex Excitability During Ballistic Reaching, IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (2023).
  • Ellis, Michael D.; Gurari, Netta; Gerritsen, Ninette T.A.; Lee, Sabrina Sien Man; Wang, Amy; Dewald, Julius P.A., Shear wave ultrasound elastography of the biceps brachii can be used as a precise proxy for passive elbow torque in individuals with hemiparetic stroke, Physiological reports (2023).
  • Beauchamp, James A.; Pearcey, Gregory E.P.; Khurram, Obaid U.; Chardon, Matthieu; Wang, Y. Curtis; Powers, Randall K.; Dewald, Julius P.A.; Heckman, C. J., A geometric approach to quantifying the neuromodulatory effects of persistent inward currents on individual motor unit discharge patterns, Journal of Neural Engineering (2023).
  • Seim, Caitlyn E.; Han, Chuzhang; Lowber, Alexis J.; Brooks, Claire; Payne, Marie; Lansberg, Maarten G.; Flavin, Kara E.; Dewald, Julius P.A.; Okamura, Allison M., Isometric Force Pillow, Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH (2022).
  • Williamson, Jordan N.; Sikora, William A.; James, Shirley A.; Parmar, Nishaal J.; Lepak, Louis V.; Cheema, Carolyn F.; Refai, Hazem H.; Wu, Dee H.; Sidorov, Evgeny V.; Dewald, Julius P.A.; Yang, Yuan, Cortical Reorganization of Early Somatosensory Processing in Hemiparetic Stroke, Journal of Clinical Medicine (2022).
  • McPherson, Laura M.; Dewald, Julius P.A., Abnormal synergies and associated reactions post-hemiparetic stroke reflect muscle activation patterns of brainstem motor pathways, Frontiers in Neurology (2022).
  • Kalinowska, Aleksandra; Schlafly, Millicent; Rudy, Kyra; Dewald, Julius P.A.; Murphey, Todd D., Measuring Interaction Bandwidth During Physical Human-Robot Collaboration, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (2022).
  • Patterson, Jacqueline R.; Dewald, Julius P.A.; Drogos, Justin M.; Gurari, Netta, Impact of Voluntary Muscle Activation on Stretch Reflex Excitability in Individuals With Hemiparetic Stroke, Frontiers in Neurology (2022).

Recent Conference Poster Presentations

Sukal-Moulton TM, Dewald H, Gaebler-Spira D, Dewald JPAEvidence for abnormal joint torque coupling in children with spastic hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Program No. 769.26/DD67. 2009 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2009. Online.

Yao J, Dewald JP.Changes in cortical-muscular connectivity in frequency domain following stroke. Program No. 568.21/EE83. 2009 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2009. Online.

Carmona C, Ellis MD, Dewald JP.Real world arm function and its relationship with kinematic evaluation of reaching in chronic stroke. Poster session presented at the American Physical Therapy Association, Combined Sections Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, February 2010.

Ellis MD, Dewald JP.Head rotation influences reaching range of motion in individuals with chronic severe stroke: the asymmetric tonic neck reflex. Poster session presented at the American Physical Therapy Association, Combined Sections Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, February 2010.

Krainak DM, Bury K, Churchill S, Gandhi M, Pavlovics E, Pearson L, Ellis MD, Dewald JPThe Effect of Body Position on Upper Extremity Single and Multi-joint Strength in Individuals with Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke. American Physical Therapy Association, Combined Sections Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, February 2010.

Hawe R, Sanchez N, and Dewald JP"Reliability of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Measures in Subjects with and without Stroke,"presented at the Human Brain Mapping Meeting Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2010.

Hurley D, Sukal-Moulton T, Gaebler-Spira D, Msall M, Krosschell KJ, and Dewald JPA"The Cerebral Palsy Research Registry,"presented at the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, Washington, DC, 2010.

Hurley D, Sukal-Moulton T, Gaebler-Spira D, Msall M, Krosschell K, and Dewald JPA"The Cerebral Palsy Research Registry,"presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Pediatrics, Orlando, FL, 2010.

Sukal-Moulton T, Hawe R, Krosschell KJ, Hurley D, and Dewald JPA"Discoordination in the upper extremity of children with hemiplegia," presented at the NIBIB T32 Trainees Meeting at National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 2010.

Sanchez N, Yao J, Dewald JPAssessment of reproducibility and sensitivity of corticospinal tract DTI derived metrics in stroke.  Program No. 898.12/HHH24. 2010 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. San Diego, CA: Society for Neuroscience, 2010. Online.