Judith M. Burnfield, PhD, PT, is the Vice President of Research and the Clifton Chair in Physical Therapy and Movement Sciences at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. She directs Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering and the Movement and Neurosciences Center. 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 postdoctoral training at the Pathokinesiology Laboratory at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Burnfield’s research focuses on the promotion of functional independence, cardiorespiratory fitness, and long-term health and wellbeing of individuals with physical disabilities and chronic conditions. Her work has resulted in patented technologies and treatment approaches used worldwide in rehabilitation, fitness, and home settings. Dr. Burnfield leads Madonna’s Post-COVID model system of rehabilitation, integrating the diverse perspectives of clinicians, educators, researchers and community stakeholders to advance rehabilitation care and science for individuals recovering from COVID-19.
Natalie A. Williams, PhD, directs the Translational Health Psychology Research Center within the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. She earned a master’s degree in Psychology and a dual PhD in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Missouri. Dr. Williams completed an APA-accredited predoctoral clinical psychology internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, followed by postdoctoral training in Pediatric Psychology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Williams has held faculty appointments at multiple universities and is an award winning teacher and researcher in the area of family adaptation to chronic illness and injury in the United States and globally. Her current research focuses on psychological co-morbidities in Long COVID, caregiver stress and coping in medical rehabilitation settings, and personality and social processes affecting the health and wellbeing of individuals with physical disabilities and chronic conditions.
Virginia Chaidez, PhD, RD, directs the Translational Nutrition Sciences Research Center within the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Dr. Chaidez is a registered dietitian with experience in clinical, research, teaching and community settings. She earned her PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis (UCD) and completed her postdoctoral training with UCD’s Public Health Sciences Department and the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute. Dr. Chaidez’s extensive experiences provide her with a broad lens for advancing ecological approaches to address complex public health problems, with a specific focus on underlying social and community determinants of health. As a health disparities researcher, Dr. Chaidez blends her expertise in nutrition and public health to help promote the nutrition, health and wellbeing of individuals recovering from COVID-19 and other chronic conditions.
Dr. Arash Mohammadzadeh Gonabadi, PhD, leads the Rehabilitation Engineering Center within the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. He holds a PhD in Exercise Science and Biomechanics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and bachelor's and master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of Semnan, Iran. Dr. Gonabadi has extensive experience in modeling, designing, and analyzing humans and machinery. He works collaboratively with patients, clinicians and researchers to design hardware and software technology innovations that address the immediate clinical needs of adults and children recovering from various injuries and illnesses including COVID-19. Dr. Gonabadi’s research spans assistive devices, exoskeletons, human movement variability, and artificial intelligence methods. His ongoing projects include optimizing wearable sensors and robots (e.g., hip exoskeletons), waist tethers, human-in-the-loop optimization, and estimating metabolic costs.
Susan Fager, PhD, CCC-SLP, 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.
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.
Tabatha Sorenson is an Occupational Therapist and Lead Assistive Technology Specialist at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. Tabatha completed her clinical doctorate training at Creighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions with a focus on Assistive Technology across the life span. Tabatha is the Rehabilitation Engineering Clinical Program Leader and serves as a liaison between patients/clinicians and Madonna’s Rehabilitation Engineering Center to facilitate development of customized solutions to solve unmet needs. She also provides inpatient and outpatient services for individuals of all ages after illness or injury. Tabatha has over a decade of experience helping individuals regain access to computers, phones (e.g., 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. Additionally, 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 patients transition home as safely and independently as possible. Tabatha’s knowledge and experience with specialty equipment and mobility devices (e.g., power wheelchairs, specialty commodes/shower chairs, and transfer lifts) is invaluable when helping patients and families prepare space to accommodate new equipment.