Sarah Keller PT, DPT, NCS


Midwestern University
College of Health Sciences
Physical Therapy Program
Alumni Hall North 340-B
555 31st St.
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Office 630-515-7206




B.S. Exercise Science Saint Louis University 2004
M.S. Physical Therapy Saint Louis University 2006
DPT Exercise Science Saint Louis University 2007

Research Summary

Scientific Field of Interest

Patient Functional Improvement during Acute Stroke Rehabilitation and Return to Life Roles Following Stroke Rehabilitation

Patient management following stroke needs to adapt to our growing knowledge of brain plasticity and the shortened periods of rehabilitation.  Therapists must demonstrate the ability to follow evidence based practice, find safe and novel approaches to increase patient participation outside of scheduled therapy time, demonstrate objective measure improvements, and complete therapeutic interventions and education in shorter rehabilitation stays.  The focus of my research has been translational research for a large variety of patients in an acute stroke rehabilitation setting.  In addition, following stroke rehabilitation patients have the rest of their lives as stroke survivors, and I am interested in the patients' and families' ability to return to life roles and ongoing functional improvement following discharge from rehabilitation.

Research Projects

Project I- Motivation through Commercially Available Pedometers to Encourage Increased Steps per Day in Acute Stroke Rehabilitation.
There is a significant amount of evidence that supports increased intensity of physical activity and functional mobility during stroke rehabilitation is needed. The time patients spend in therapy is likely 60 to 90 minutes of physical therapy a day in acute stroke rehabilitation. Therapists must find additional ways to encourage mobility throughout the therapeutic day rather than just during physical therapy.  The aim of this study is to utilize commercially available pedometers to encourage increased steps per day with family and nursing staff outside of therapy time and to monitor gait speed improvements, Functional Independence Measure (FIM) of gait improvements, and steps per day to evaluate correlations between measures and improvements compared to previously reported average improvements during rehabilitation.  

Project II- Monitoring Community Mobility with GPS Technology after Stroke Rehabilitation.
This project is utilizing Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Technology to track participation in individuals post-stroke immediately following rehabilitation and up to one year following discharge from acute stroke rehabilitation.  The ability of individuals to access the community, including both in number of visits and means of travel in the community, is extremely important to determine the individuals' return to life roles and important locations.  The aim of this study is to evaluate the number of times a patient is in the community and amount of target locations visited in a week period at regular intervals for the first year following stroke rehabilitation utilizing GPS technology.

Project III-  Use of Outcome Measure in Postural Control of Individuals in Acute Stroke Rehabilitation. 
The evaluation of patient deficit and improvement in acute stroke rehabilitation has consistently been the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) instrument which measures patient assistance needs with basic tasks.  A large variety of other outcome measures have been utilized for individuals to assess balance and postural control following stroke based on patient ability.  The aim of this study is to assess two commonly used measures for postural control for all patients following stroke admitted to rehabilitation to determine correlations of change in test score during rehabilitation stay and the correlation with the FIM improvements.

Selected Publications

Pregait balance rehabilitation in acute stroke patients.
Rao N, Zielke D, Keller S, Burns M, Sharma A, Krieger R, Aruin AS.
Int J Rehabil Res. 2013 Jun;36(2):112-7 

Monitoring community mobility with global positioning system technology after a stroke: a case study.
Evans CC, Hanke TA, Zielke D, Keller S, Ruroede K.
J Neurol Phys Ther. 2012 Jun;36(2):68-78