Judith M. Burnfield, PhD, PT, is Director of the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Director of the Movement and Neurosciences Center and the Clifton Chair in Physical Therapy and Movement Sciences at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Dr. Burnfield is a nationally recognized physical rehabilitation clinician, researcher and scholar. She earned her PhD in Biokinesiology from the University of Southern California and completed her post doctoral training at the Pathokinesiology Laboratory at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Burnfield holds faculty appointments in the clinical sciences and engineering at multiple universities. Dr. Burnfield publishes and presents extensively in areas relevant to the promotion of functional independence, cardiorespiratory fitness, and long-term health and wellbeing of individuals with physical disabilities and chronic conditions. Her federally funded research and development work has created patented technologies and treatment approaches used worldwide in rehabilitation, fitness, and home settings. Dr. Burnfield co-authored the book, Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function.
Thad Buster received his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, his Master of Science degree in Exercise Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and is currently working on his doctoral studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He completed an internship in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has extensive clinical experience in the field of exercise physiology. His research interests include the biomechanical analysis of gait and exercise interventions for persons with disabilities and chronic medical conditions.
Guilherme (Gui) M. Cesar, Ph.D., P.T., is the Assistant Research Director of the Movement and Neurosciences Center at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Dr. Cesar has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. He earned his Ph.D. in Biokinesiology from the University of Southern California where he investigated the locomotor strategies children employ to participate successfully in physical activities. Dr. Cesar expanded his research with young adults during his post-doctoral work at the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln under the supervision of Judith M. Burnfield, Ph.D., PT. His research aims to guide understanding of how biomechanical factors and cardiorespiratory fitness can contribute to movement efficiency and independence in function. In addition to his research, Dr. Cesar is passionate about education and has taught coursework for physical therapists and physical educators in anatomy, biomechanics, kinesiology, and physical rehabilitation.
Susan Fager is the Director of the Communication Center of Excellence in the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Susan has more than 18 years of experience in the area of assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and completed her doctoral training in AAC and motor speech disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research focuses on assistive technology options for persons with severe physical and/or cognitive impairments due to acquired neurological or degenerative conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, brainstem stroke, spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, or chronic Guillain Barre syndrome.
Sonya L. Irons, PT, DPT, CCS, is an Inpatient Physical Therapy Clinical Director at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Prior to her current position, she served as a Research Physical Therapist in the Movement and Neurosciences Center within Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering and as a clinician across multiple services. Dr. Irons is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy (CCS), and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Creighton University (Omaha, NE). Her research interests include cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy— specifically exercise interventions for persons with disabilities and chronic medical conditions.
Chase M. Pfeifer, Ph.D., is the Assistant Research Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center of Excellence at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Dr. Pfeifer has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with minors in Mathematics, Physics, and Biology from Florida State University. He earned a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he performed extensive medical device design and investigated the kinematics and kinetics in college athletes at the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln under the supervision of Judith M. Burnfield, Ph.D., PT. He currently holds an Adjunct Professorship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln teaching Kinematic and Machine Design through the Mechanical & Materials Engineering Department. His research through the Rehabilitation Engineering Center aims to improve the quality of life for rehabilitation patients through the design and development of assistive and rehabilitation devices for patients, clinicians, and family members.
Tabatha Sorenson is an Occupational Therapist and Lead Assistive Technology Specialist at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. She provides inpatient and outpatient services for individuals of all ages after illness or injury. Tabatha has 10 years of experience helping individuals regain access to computers, phones (landline, flip phone, and smart phone), environmental controls, and assisting speech language pathologists identify reliable access methods for patients to access alternative and augmented communication devices. Tabatha received her Certified Aging in Place Specialist certification from the National Home Builder’s Association in 2014. She analyzes home environments and provides accessibility recommendations to ensure our patients transition home safely, and as independent as possible. Tabatha has knowledge and experience with specialty equipment and mobility devices (such as power wheelchairs, specialty commodes/shower chairs, transfer lifts, etc) and the space needs of this equipment in the home environment, helping patients and families prepare space to accommodate new equipment. Tabatha completed her clinical doctorate training at Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, completing her doctoral component in the area of Assistive Technology across the life span. Tabatha is the Rehabilitation Engineering Clinical Program Leader. She assists in connecting patients/clinicians with our Rehabilitation Engineer to develop customized solutions to solve unmet needs. Tabatha informs the rehabilitation team on the clinical application and use of newly developed products from the Rehabilitation Engineering Center.
Arash Mohammadzadeh Gonabadi is the Assistant Research Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center of Excellence at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from State University of Semnan in Semnan, Iran and is currently completing his PhD in exercise science and biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He brings a wealth of experience in modeling, design, analysis, simulation of machinery, robotics and artificial intelligence. As a member of Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, he works closely with patients and clinicians to design technology innovations that address the immediate clinical needs of adults and children recovering from a wide range of injuries and illnesses. His research through the Rehabilitation Engineering Center aims to design and develop assistive and rehabilitation devices to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.