Pei-Chun Kao, P.T., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Scientific Lead in Robot-Assisted Movement Biomechanics, NERVE Center, UMOVE Center Researcher

Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences
Physical Therapy and Kinesiology
Health and Social Sciences Building - 389


Gait rehabilitation, biomechanics and neuromuscular control of human walking

Research Interests

Assistive technology; Cognitive-motor interference; Gait biomechanics;


  • Other: Postdoctoral Research training in Physical Therapy, (2014), University of Delaware - Newark, DE
    Supporting Area: Robotic exoskeletons, FES, and biomechanics: treating movement disorders
  • Ph D: Biomechanics, (2009), University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Principles of motor adaptation when walking with a powered exoskeleton
  • MS: Movement Science, (2003), University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Recumbent stepping frequency and neural coping between upper and lower limbs
  • BS: Physical Therapy, (2000), National Taiwan University - Taipei, Taiwan


Pei-Chun Kao's research interests are the identification of the general principles of biomechanics and motor control in human walking and the use of that information to develop effective rehabilitation interventions and alternatives. The areas she is specifically interested in are fall prevention and wearable devices for biofeedback and assistance.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • President's Poster Award (2011) - 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics
  • Kinesiology Teaching Assistantship (2009) - University of Michigan
  • Kinesiology Travel Award (2007) - University of Michigan
  • Rackham Graduate School Travel Award (2007), Scholarship/Research - University of Michigan
  • Kinesiology Summer Research Fellowship (2005), Scholarship/Research - University of Michigan

Selected Publications

  • Kao, P.C., Pierro, M.A. (2022). Motor adaptation to cognitive challenges and walking perturbations in healthy young adults. Gait and Posture,92 167-175.
  • Kao, P.C., Pierro, M.A., Wu, T., Gonzalez, D.M., Seeley, R. (2021). Association between functional physical capacity and cognitive performance under destabilizing walking conditions in older adults. Experimental Gerontology,155 111582
  • Kao, P.C., Pierro, M.A. (2021). Dual-task treadmill walking at self-paced versus fixed speeds. Gait and Posture,89 92-101.
  • Deane, N., Gu, Y., Kao, P.C., Wu, Y.N., Zielinski, M., Inalpolat, M. (2021). Pressure monitoring based identification of the EOD suit–human interface load distribution. International Journal of Intelligent Robotics and Applications, 1-14.
  • Wu, Y.N, Norton, A., Zielinski, M.R., Kao, P.C., Stanwicks, A., Pang, P., Cring, C.H., Flynn, B., Yanco, H.A. (2021). Characterizing the Effects of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operations on the Human Body While Wearing Heavy Personal Protective Equipment. Human Factors, 0018720821992623.
  • Loverro, K.L., Khuu, A., Kao, P.C., Lewis, C.L. (2019). Kinematic variability and local dynamic stability of gait in individuals with hip pain and a history of developmental dysplasia. Gait and Posture,68 545-554.
  • Kao, P.C., Pierro, M.A., Booras, K. (2018). Effects of motor fatigue on walking stability and variability during concurrent cognitive challenges. PLoS One,13(7) e0201433.
  • Kao, P.C., Srivastava, S. (2018). Mediolateral footpath stabilization during walking in people following stroke. PLoS One,13(11) e0208120.
  • Kastroba, B., Wu, Y., Kao, P.C., Stark, C., Yen, S., Roh, J. (2018). Muscle activation pattern during self-propelled treadmill walking. Journal of Physical Therapy Science,30(8) 1069-1072.
  • Lydakis, A., Kao, P.C., Begum, M. (2017). Irregular gait detection using wearable sensors. Proceedings of 10th PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments Conference
  • Srivastava, S., Kao, P.C., Agrawal, S.K., Scholz, J.P., Higginson, J.S. (2016). Assist-as-needed robotic training as an alternative to therapist-assisted locomotor training for post-stroke gait rehabilitation. International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation,4(5).
  • Srivastava, S., Kao, P.C., Reisman, D.S., Higginson , J.S., Scholz, J.P. (2016). Coordination of muscles to the foot position during over-ground walking in neurologically intact individuals and stroke survivors. Experimental Brain Research,234 1903-14.
  • Srivastava, S., Kao, P.C., Kim, S.H., Stegall, P., Zanotto, D., Higginson, J., Agrawal, S., Scholz, J. (2015). Assist-as-Needed Robot-Aided Gait Training Improves Walking Function in Individuals Following Stroke. IEEE Transactions On Neural Systems And Rehabilitation Engineering,23(6) 956-63.
  • Kao, P.C., Srivistava, S., Higginson, J.S., Agrawal, S.K., Scholz, J.P. (2015). Short-term performance-based error-augmentation versus error-reduction robotic gait training for individuals with chronic stroke: a pilot study. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation-International,2(9) 1066.
  • Kao, P.C., Higginson, C.I., Seymour, K., Kamerdze, M., Higginson, J.S. (2015). Walking stability during cell phone use in healthy adults. Gait & posture,41(4) 947-953.
  • Kao, P.C., Dingwell, J.B., Higginson, J.S., Binder-Macleod, S. (2014). Dynamic instability during post-stroke hemiparetic walking. Gait & posture,40(3) 457-463.
  • Kao, P.C., Srivastava, S., Agrawal, S.K., Scholz, J.P. (2013). Effect of robotic performance-based error-augmentation versus error-reduction training on the gait of healthy individuals. Gait & posture,37(1) 113–120.
  • Kao, P.C., Lewis, C.L., Ferris, D.P. (2010). Invariant ankle moment patterns when walking with and without a robotic ankle exoskeleton. Journal of biomechanics,43(2) 203–209.
  • Kao, P.C., Lewis, C.L., Ferris, D.P. (2010). Joint kinetic response during unexpectedly reduced plantar flexor torque provided by a robotic ankle exoskeleton during walking. Journal of biomechanics,43(7) 1401–1407.
  • Kao, P.C., Lewis, C.L., Ferris, D.P. (2010). Short-term locomotor adaptation to a robotic ankle exoskeleton does not alter soleus Hoffmann reflex amplitude. Journal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation,7(1) 33.
  • Kao, P.C., Ferris, D.P. (2009). Motor adaptation during dorsiflexion-assisted walking with a powered orthosis. Gait & posture,29(2) 230–236.
  • Ferris, D.P., Huang, H.J., Kao, P.C. (2006). Moving the arms to activate the legs. Exercise and sport sciences reviews,34(3) 113–120.
  • Kao, P.C., Ferris, D.P. (2005). The effect of movement frequency on interlimb coupling during recumbent stepping. Motor control,9(2) 144–163.

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • CHS: Medium: Collaborative Research: Fabric-embedded Dynamic Sensing for Adaptive Exoskeleton Assistance (Award#1955979) (2020), Grant - National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Gu, Y. (Co-Principal), Kao, P.C. (Co-Principal), Yanco, H. (Principal)
  • SLIMMER-3 (Soldier Lightweight Integrated Multifunctional Materials and Exoskeleton Research): Project EX-6: Characterizing Human Adaptation and Performance of Soldier-Relevant Tasks While Wearing Exoskeletons (2020), Grant - U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Soldier Center
    Kao, P.C. (Principal), Norton, A. (Co-Principal)
  • SLIMMER-2 (Soldier Lightweight Integrated Multifunctional Materials and Exoskeleton Research): Project EX-1 PH2: Enhancing Human Performance for Exoskeleton Applications (Phase 2) (2019), Grant - U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Soldier Center
    Gu, Y. (Co-Principal), Inalpolat, M. (Co-Principal), Kao, P.C. (Co-Principal), Norton, A. (Co-Principal), Wu, Y. (Co-Principal), Yanco, H. (Principal)
  • Development and Standardization of Exoskeleton Test Methods for Mobility on Variable Terrains (2020), Grant - ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials)
    Kao, P.C. (Principal), Norton, A. (Co-Principal)
  • SLIMMER (Soldier Lightweight Integrated Multifunctional Materials and Exoskeleton Research): Project EX-1: Characterizing Human Performance for Exoskeleton Applications (2018), Grant - U.S. Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center
    Gu, Y. (Co-Principal), Inalpolat, M. (Co-Principal), Kao, P.C. (Co-Principal), Norton, A. (Co-Principal), Wu, Y. (Co-Principal), Yanco, H. (Principal)
  • NE2R2VE Center: Designing Better Robot Systems for People (2016), Grant - UMASS President’s Office, Science and Technology (S&T) Initiatives
    Buchholz, B.O. (Co-Investigator), Kao, P.C. (Co-Investigator), Levkowitz, H. (Co-Investigator), Stevenson, H. (Co-Investigator), Wu, Y. (Co-Investigator), Yanco, H. (Principal)
  • Neurophysiological Effects of Exercise on Gait Rehabilitation following Stroke (2016), Grant - UMASS Lowell, office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Internal Seed Funding
    Kao, P.C. (Principal), Garelnabi, M.O. (Co-Principal)