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Sandra A McCombe Waller
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Sandra A McCombe Waller P.T., Ph.D., M.S., NCS

Academic Title: Associate Professor
Primary Appointment: Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
Secondary Appointments: Neurology
Administrative Title: Co-Director For Educational Affairs, Dpt Program
Additional Title(s): Co-Director of SIMDAR Lab
Location: AHB 240-I
Phone: 410.706.0787
Phone: 410.706.7308 (Rm 204)
Fax: 410.706.6387
Lab: AHB Rm 204

Personal History:

Sandy McCombe Waller PhD, PT, NCS is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. She graduated with her BS in PT from the University of Maryland in 1985, received her Masters of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University in 1991, and completed her Doctoral Training in Physical Rehabilitation Science at UMB in 2004 in the area of Neuromotor Control. She is also board certified as a Neurologic Clinical Specialist. Dr. McCombe Waller has over 20 years teaching the clinical neurology content in the physical therapy program and joined the faculty full time in 1994. From 2003 until 2007 she served as Director of the Entry-level Physical Therapy Program. Her current focus includes ongoing teaching in the entry-level program, mentoring of doctoral students and research in the area of neuromotor control.

Research Interests:

Dr. McCombe Waller is currently involved in research funded by the Claude D. Pepper Center (NIA) and NCMRR (NIH) to study an innovative combination of bilateral and unilateral training to improve arm and hand function in patients with moderate severity paresis after brain injury. She also studies the underlying neural mechanisms associated with recovery of function and unilateral, bilateral and combination therapies using transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging as well as the mechanisms underlying postural preparation, planning and control while reaching in the standing position. She has collaborated over the last several years with Dr. Jill Whitall in research involving bilateral arm training and rhythmic auditory cueing. Together they have a patent for a unique bilateral arm training device named the BATRAC.

Clinical Speciality:

Neurological Clinical Specialist Certified 1995, Re-certified 2005 through the American Physical Therapy Association.  Dr. McCombe Waller specializes in stroke and brain injury intervention and currently sees patients in the Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science’s Service Learning Clinic (SLC).


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Globas C, Lam JM, Zhang W, Imanbayev A, Hertler B, Becker C, Whitall J, McCombe-Waller S, Mori S, Hanley DF, Luft AR (2010) Mesencephalic Corticospinal Atrophy Predicts Baseline Deficit But Not Response in Unilateral or Bilateral Arm Training in Chronic Stroke. Neurorehabil Neural Repair Oct 26.

Jill Whitall, Sandy McCombe Waller, John D. Sorkin, Larry W. Forrester, Richard F. Macko, Daniel F. Hanley, Andrew P. Goldberg, Andreas Luft,  (2010) Neurorehabil Neural Repair published 7 October 2010, 10.1177/1545968310380685

McCombe Waller, S (2010) Invited Commentary for Bilateral Movement Therapy Post Stroke: Underlying Mechanisms and Review. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation Jan (17)1:15- 23.

Luft, AR., Macko, RF., Forrester, LW., Villagra, F., Ivey, F., Sorkin, JD, Whitall, J., McCombe Waller, S., Katzel, L., Goldberg, AP., Hanley, DF. (2008) Treadmill exercise activates subcortical neural networks and improves walking after stroke:  A randomized controlled trial. Stroke Dec 39(12): 3341-50

McCombe Waller, S., Forrester, L., Villagra, F., Whitall, J. (2008) Intracortical inhibition and facilitation with unilateral dominant, unilateral nondominant and bilateral movement tasks in left and right handed adults. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 269, 96-104.

McCombe Waller, S.  & Whitall, J (2008) “Bilateral Arm Training: Why and Who Benefits? Journal of Neurorehabilitation. 23(1):29-41. Review

McCombe Waller, S., Wei, L., Whitall, J. (2008) Temporal and Spatial Control following Bilateral versus Unilateral Training, Human Movement Science. Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 18639360 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
Whitall, J., McCombe Waller, S., Luft, A., Hanley, D.  (2006). Motor function improvement is associated with brain re-organization after bilateral arm training in chronic stroke – Case report.  Physioscience, 2, 93-98.

Whitall, J.  Savin Jr., D., Harris-Love, M.,  McCombe Waller, S. (2006) Extending the applicability of the Wolf Motor Function Test. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 87, 656-660.

McCombe Waller, S., Harris-Love, M., Wei, L., and Whitall J. (2006) Temporal Coordination of the Arms During Bilateral and Sequential Movements in Patients with Chronic Hemiparesis, Experimental Brain Research 168,450-454.

Harris-Love, McCombe Waller, S., Whitall, J. (2005) Exploiting interlimb coupling to improve paretic arm reaching performance in people with chronic stroke. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. Nov;86(11):2131-7.

Luft, A., Forrester, L., Macko, R., McCombe Waller, S., Whitall, J., Villagra, F., and Hanley, D. (2005) Brain activation of lower extremity movement in chronically impaired stroke survivors. Neuroimage. May 15; 26(1):184-94.

McCombe Waller, S.  and Jill Whitall (2005) Hand Dominance and Side of Stroke Affect Rehabilitation in Chronic Stroke. Clinical Rehabilitation Aug; 19(5):544-51

McCombe Waller, S., & Whitall, J (2004). “Fine motor function in adults with chronic hemiparesis: Baseline comparison to non-disabled adults and effects of bilateral arm training. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Jul; 85(7):1076-83

Luft, A., McCombe Waller, S., Whitall, J, Smith, G., Forrester, L, Macko, R., Hauser, T., Goldberg, A., Hanley, D. (2004) Interhemispheric Reorganization of Motor Activity is Necessary for Successful Rehabilitation. JAMA Oct 20; 292(15):1853-61.

Luft AR, McCombe Waller S, Forrester L, Whitall J, Macko RF, Smith GV, Goldberg AP, Hanley DF (2004) Lesion location alters brain activation in chronically impaired stroke survivors.  Neuroimage Mar; 21(3):924-35.

Whitall, J., McCombe Waller, S., Silver, K.H.C., Macko, R.F. (2000) Repetitive bilateral arm training with rhythmic auditory cueing improves motor function in chronic hemiparetic stroke. Stroke 31, 2390-2395.

Alon, G., McCombe, S, Koutsantonis, S., Stumphauzer, L., Burgwin, K., Parent, M., and Bosworth, R., (1987) “Comparison of the Effects of Electrical Stimulation and Exercise on Abdominal Musculature, "Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 8, 567 - 573.