On Track - Research Team

Principal Investigator: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada

Doreen Bartlett, BScPT, PhD, Professor Emerita, School of Physical Therapy, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada and Scientist Emeritus, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Principal Investigator: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), USA

Sarah (Sally) Westcott McCoy, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States

Co-Investigators - CIHR & PCORI

Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Sciences, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Bob Palisano, PT, ScD, FAPTA, Distinguished Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, and Scientist, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Lynn Jeffries, PT, DPT, PhD, PCS, Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Alyssa LaForme-Fiss, PT, PhD, PCS, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Jan Willem Gorter, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Scotiabank Chair in Child Health Research and Director, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Steve Hanna, PhD, Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Scientist, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Co-Investigator - PCORI



Kristie Bjornson, PhD, PT, PCS, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States

Associate Professor, Developmental Medicine, Pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Pediatric Physical Therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience in settings such as the NICU, public schools, birth-to-three centers, and at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) Seattle, Washington. Since 1989 she has been the Research Coordinator for the Spasticity Management Clinic at SCH, serving as the project coordinator for the randomized clinical trial and meta-analysis of selective dorsal rhizotomy, botulinum toxin-A and a descriptive cross sectional study of intrathecal baclofen (ITB) therapy. Ms. Bjornson’s doctoral work focused on the assessment of physical activity, health and quality of life in ambulatory children with cerebral palsy and normative ambulatory data for the StepWatch accelerometer. Presently, she has an NICHD NIH K23 career development award focusing on the measurement of ambulatory physical activity and participation in daily life of children with cerebral palsy and the influence of orthotics. Kristie was an assessor in the Move & PLAY Study.



Cheryl Kerfeld, PhD, PT, Acting Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States

Acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Kerfeld is currently involved in the coordination and teaching of Pediatrics, Hybrid Online Survey of Pathophysiology for Rehabilitation, Exercise Physiology for Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Case Studies in Rehabilitation. She has a strong interest in online education and the use of technology for classroom and clinical instruction. Dr. Kerfeld has over 18 years of patient care and administrative experience in a variety of pediatric settings. She has worked as a Clinical Instructor and an Academic and Center Coordinator of Clinical Education. She is very interested in global health and culturally competent family centered care where she has traveled to other countries collaborating in the development of rehabilitation teaching and clinical programs for children with disabilities. Dr. Kerfeld’s research interests include culturally competent family centered care, health disparities, child-reported outcome measures, and the health and fitness of children with disabilities. Dr. Kerfeld was an assessor in the Move & Play Study.

Parent Investigators - CIHR & PCORI


Barbara Sieck Taylor (Pennsylvania USA) b.taylor43@verizon.net

Lives with her husband Mark and her son William, 22, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has 30+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including work as a professional actress; a nonprofit administrator; a program officer for two foundations; a fund development officer; and currently the executive director of a professional association for philanthropies. For six years, she served on the board of directors of the Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, including one year as its chair. For two years, she directed ACHIEVA's DIsability Health Policy Forum, an advocacy project focused on oral health care for people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. As a parent volunteer, for eight years she was the co-director of Conductive Education of Pittsburgh (now Steps to Independence); creation of this program brought a special-education system designed specifically for children with CP, and widely used in the U.K. and Europe, to the Pittsburgh region for the first time. Barbara was a parent consultant to the Move & Play study (2006-2009). She co-authored a commentary published in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics (Parent Perspectives: The Family-Therapist Relationship, 2010). Her most meaningful accomplishment is that William, who has cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities, is healthy, happy and enjoys loving support from his family and friends.



Tina Hjorngaard (Ontario Canada) thjorngaard@gmail.com

contributions are informed by multiple perspectives as a parent of a 15 year old girl with cerebral palsy, as a social worker, and as a critical disability advocate and an accidental activist. She struggles with, and, at times, is conflicted by living, working, and parenting in a society that holds pathologizing views of disability. This is particularly a concern when examining how and where children with disabilities fit into our Social Tapestry. Tina was a parent consultant to the Move & Play (2006-2009). She has authored two commentaries published in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics (Parent Perspectives: The FamilyTherapist Relationship and Saying Goodbye, 2010 and Family Centered Care: A Critical Perspective, 2011).

Parent Investigators - PCORI


Lisa Diller (Washington USA) labarton@sprintmail.com

Lives with her husband, son 10 and daughter 8 in Seattle, Washington. She enjoys supporting her children’s many activities and volunteering at their school and church. Her 10 year old son has diplegic cerebral palsy and continues to receive therapy services. Lisa is a physical therapist and has had an opportunity to work in many practice settings. Currently she works part time in an outpatient clinic, private home health practice, and as clinical faculty in the school of physical therapy at the University of Washington.



Paula Drew (Oklahoma USA) geodrew@sbcglobal.net

Paula Drew is the mother of a miracle. Dillard, her 20 year-old son, has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, vision, and hearing impairments. He is a happy, healthy and most of all, loving young man; a gift from God. Paula is a Registered Dental Hygienist, now retired. She has been married to Dillard's dad for 28 years and lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. Paula credits Dillard’s physical therapist with supporting her family through the everyday life of cerebral palsy, all for the good of Dillard. She hopes that her experiences as the mother of a young adult with cerebral palsy will provide guidance and help to others. Paula is a board member of Coffee Creek Riding Center. The Center provides therapeutic horseback riding for children with developmental challenges. She is a member of a parent/advocacy group, The Oklahoma Family Network, in which parents experiencing the NICU life are mentored. Paula states that being Dillard's mother is to always nurture, guide, and love him. She is looking forward to being a part of "the Team.



Nancy Ford (Georgia USA) nwford@bellsouth.net 

Nancy Ford lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Marshall and their 4 children. Anna, Noelle and Sydney are 14 year old fraternal triplets and are currently in 8th grade. Harrison is 12 years old and is currently in 7th grade. Anna, Noelle and Sydney were born very prematurely at 25 ½ weeks gestation and weighed less than 2 pounds. Anna and Sydney required a 3 month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Noelle required a 4 month stay. Sydney continues to have minor eye complications due to retinopathy of prematurity. Noelle was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which requires a shunt, cerebral palsy and learning delays. Harrison was born full term, weighing more than his triplet sisters’ combined birth weight.

Nancy is a graduate of Clemson University with a BS in Finance. She works in Corporate Finance at The Coca-Cola Company on a flex-time schedule to allow her to spend more time with her family. Marshall is CFO at Yancey Brothers, the Caterpillar dealer for the state of Georgia. The Ford’s enjoy numerous sporting activities including running, soccer, football, swimming and basketball. They are active members of their community and All Saints Catholic Church. The family also works very closely with several not for profit organizations and is actively involved with FOCUS and Lekotek, both of which focus on special needs children and their families.



Marquitha Gilbert (Pennsylvania USA) marquitha_gilbert@merck.com

Marquitha Gilbert lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband Derrick and two young children. She is a college educated pharmaceutical professional who loves to sing and read and reach out to others to help others through challenges that she has experienced. Her daughter Mari is a surviving twin, born at 23 weeks gestation, weighing 19 ounces and barely big enough to fit the clothes of an 11 inch baby doll. Mari is legally blind, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, speech delays, developmental challenges, and some sensory issues. Despite it all, she is happy, intelligent (albeit delayed), determined, walking independently, engaging and a joy. Mari is now 7 years-old and a studious first grader and a protective big sister of a 3 year old brother who both teaches her and learns from her. The family thanks God for the Blessing of Mari and her continued improvement and inspiration. As her mother, Marquitha is Mari’s publicist – with the March of Dimes, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network, Merck Allies for Disabilities, advocate - with physicians, therapists, teachers, insurance companies, and friend - to play, read, learn, explore. Marquitha works with various organizations as a parent liaison to ensure insight into care of a child like Mari or a parent like herself.



Kimberly Rayfield (Pennsylvania USA) kimberlyrayfield@yahoo.com

Kimberly Rayfield is a single mother of three children living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the years Kim has been tested with many obstacles but she seems to overcome them with flying colors. In 2001, her youngest son Jymeere was struck by a vehicle at age 2. From that very moment her life changed dramatically. Not only did she become the voice for Jymeere but she became an advocate for people with disabilities of all ages. Kim is also a cancer survivor. What gives her strength? Kim’s inner strength comes from her son Jymeere. His smile and strive for life runs her motivation. She has made it her goal in life to make sure that Jymeere gets to enjoy life as much as any other child his age. He gets to play in the park, play baseball (catcher or pitcher). He is involved in the local Community Center where he plays “hide & seek”, board games, and does arts & crafts with the other children. 

Study Coordinator for Canada and USA - CIHR

Barb Galuppi galuppi@mcmaster.ca 

Barb Galuppi, BA is the On Track Study Coordinator for Canada and USA (CIHR) and the Canadian Regional Coordinator (PCORI). Barb has a background in child development and for the last 20 years she has coordinated numerous multi-site research studies at CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research and in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. Barb was involved in the development of the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) and coordinated the Ontario Motor Growth Study following a cohort of over 650 children with cerebral palsy to create motor development curves; and the subsequent adolescent study (ASQME study) following some of these same young people as adolescents to assess patterns of activity, forms of mobility and factors associated with changes of function specific to adolescence. Barb also coordinated a randomized clinical trial to compare two treatment approaches ("child-focused" and “context-focused”) aimed at improving function for children with cerebral palsy and other motor delays. In recent years, Barb has coordinated a national study of quality of life in children with epilepsy, an intervention study supporting youth with a chronic health conditions and disabilities as they transition from pediatric to adult care, as well as a series of studies to develop and evaluate a program to promote physical activity in youth with cerebral Palsy (CP). 


Study Coordinator for USA and Canada - PCORI

Monica Smersh msmersh@uw.edu  

Monica Smersh is the US Project Coordinator for this study. Monica has a background in research support in pediatric emergency medicine and clinical outcomes assessments at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Texas – Arlington, has professional training and experience in editing and scientific publishing, and was previously the Managing Editor of GeneReviews, a medical genetics online resource (part of the GeneTests website) in the UW Department of Pediatrics. As a member of the research staff in the Division of Physical Therapy, Monica brings diverse research and scholarly publishing experience to support the work of the division’s faculty. Monica works closely with Dr. McCoy, Dr. Bartlett, and Barb Galuppi to coordinate On Track study funding, policies, logistics, and communications. She also works with the Rehabilitation Medicine grants management team and liaises with project staff at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Other areas of research interest include exercise interventions for individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Monica is the research coordinator for a study exploring the motor and non-motor benefits of tandem biking in individuals with PD.

Regional Coordinators - CIHR & PCORI

Allison Yocum (Washington USA)

Allison Yocum, PT, DSc, PCS is the Regional Coordinator for the Greater Seattle-Tacoma Region (as she was for the Move & PLAY Study), and is currently practicing pediatric physical therapy within her own practice, Waypoint Pediatric Therapies, Sammamish, Washington. This practice is a private, outpatient clinic serving children 0-21 years with physical therapy needs. She has also practiced in the school system, early intervention and birth to three programs, and acute care settings and served as a consultant on hospital based neurodevelopmental teams in her 18 years of practice. She received her pediatric advanced clinical practice certification in 2001. In 2003, she completed her Doctor of Science degree in pediatric physical therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Her doctoral research focused on reliable strength testing of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in children and was presented at national physical therapy meetings. In addition to her clinical work, she is also currently serving as the pediatric content specialist for the IRB at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, and provides guest lectures within the University of Washington pediatric courses.



Erin Wentz (Georgia USA)

Erin English Wentz, PT is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan in the Department of Kinesiology. She is a pediatric physical therapy private practice owner in Atlanta, GA and has over 17 years clinical experience in Developmental Disabilities. She has been a visiting lecturer in the physical therapy departments at Mercer University, Georgia State University, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her current research looks at interventions that precipitate motor development and physical activity in infants with Down syndrome. Special interests include aquatic physical therapy and the young adult with developmental disability especially in the areas of participation and fitness/health. She has a DOE fellowship at the University of Michigan and was a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2010-2012. Formal education includes a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Southern California (1984) and a BS in Physical Therapy from Georgia State University (1996). Erin was an assessor in the Move & PLAY Study. 



Jenn Miller/Amanda Porter (Oklahoma USA)

Jennifer Miller, PT, MPT, ATP, is the Regional Coordinator for the Oklahoma Region. Jennifer provided pediatric physical therapy working for 7 years within the Oklahoma Early Intervention program, SoonerStart, in Norman, Oklahoma serving children 0-3years of age with developmental needs. Jennifer is now working with Asbury Medical Supply as an Assistive Technology Professional throughout the state of Oklahoma. She has also assisted in the Let’s Go Again! Study performing a variety of developmental assessments for power mobility study participants in a study designed to support the theory that young children with motor impairments who are given power wheelchairs will develop age appropriate cognitive skills earlier. She is currently a research assistant for the PT Counts study an observational study designed to accurately describe the present state of service delivery and practice for students with disabilities provided by physical therapists in schools and relate those services to student outcomes. Jennifer is also actively involved as a clinical instructor for students in the physical therapy program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. 



Tracy Stoner (Pennsylvania USA)

Tracy Stoner, PT, DPT, PCS is the Philadelphia Project Coordinator. She has practiced in the field of pediatric physical therapy for 22 years. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 1990 with a Bachelors of Science in Physical Therapy and completed her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Drexel University in 2008. She received her pediatric advanced clinical practice certification in 2003. The majority of her career has been in school based therapy, but she has also practiced in the area of early intervention and pediatric outpatient therapy. She is also the North East/ Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for the PT COUNTS study examining the relationship of student outcomes to school-based physical therapy services. Tracy is also supplemental faculty at the University of Delaware where she practices, teaches portions of the pediatric courses as well as assists with clinical education, and is a clinical research assistant in the Infant Motor Laboratory

PhD Students 

Deepa Jeevanantham (Supervisor: Doreen Bartlett)

Deepa Jeevanantham completed her PhD in Rehabilitation Science at Western University in 2016 under the supervision of Doreen Bartlett. Deepa graduated from The Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree in 2004. In 2007 she completed a Master of Physiotherapy degree from Utkal University, Orissa, India. Her research focus is on investigating a series of multivariate classification systems in children with cerebral palsy using body function measures and investigating the association between classifications derived using body function measures and classification based on the participation-level child factors using Gross Motor Function Classification System with the outcome of the motor function, as well as exploring a system of multivariate classifications incorporating the Gross Motor Function Classification System, the Manual Ability Classification System, and the Communication Function Classification System.



Kim Ward (Supervisor: Lisa Chiarello)

Kimberly Ward, PT, DPT, MPH is currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences with a concentration in pediatrics at Drexel University. She assists Tracy Stoner with study coordination for the Philadelphia Region. Additionally, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. Prior to her position at the University of the Sciences, Dr. Ward was a physical therapist in educational settings through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit in Doylestown, PA for 11 years. Dr. Ward received her Post-Professional Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Drexel University (2012), Masters in Public Health from Temple University (2006), and Masters of Physical Therapy from the University of Scranton (2000). Additional research interests include school-based service needs of children with disabilities, school trip accessibility and participation for children with disabilities, health promotion, and information needs of parents of children with disabilities. 



Mohammed Alghamdi (Supervisor: Lisa Chiarello)

Mohammed Alghamdi is currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences with a concentration in pediatric physical therapy at Drexel University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Umm Al-Qura University in Saudi Arabia (2010) and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from University of Pittsburgh (2014). Mohammed has been involved in research-related tasks for the On Track Project at Philadelphia region since fall of 2014. His research interest lies in the area of understanding the caregiving process of children with physical disabilities from pediatric rehabilitation perspective. Mohammed is also interested cross-cultural adaptation and validation of health related-quality of life measures that pertains to children with physical disabilities and their families.




Kathryn Lent (Partial Supervisor: Sally Westcott McCoy

Kathryn Lent, PT, DPT is currently pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences under the partial supervision of Sally Westcott McCoy at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame (2004) and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Washington (2012). Kathryn has practiced as a clinician in the Seattle area in general outpatient, hospital-based pediatric outpatient and pediatric acute care settings. Her research interests are related to health equity in rehabilitation, particularly in identifying existing health disparities in children with disabilities, identifying factors to improve outcomes for those children and their families, and diversity education in professional contexts.