PhD, University of Oregon
MS and Certificate Physical Therapy, University of Southern California
BS, University of Oregon
Associate Professor Sandra Saavedra is a pediatric researcher with more than 20 years of clinical experience in pediatric physical therapy. Her clinical experience, combined with strong doctoral and postdoctoral research opportunities, contributes to her focus on translating clinical needs into research projects and thus improving the evidence base in pediatric physical therapy. Saavedra’s primary course responsibilities are the Scientific Inquiry series (research-based courses), Pediatric Physical Therapy Lab, and Neuroscience Lab. Her research teams are multidisciplinary, including students from Physical Therapy, Prosthetics and Orthotics, and Biomedical Engineering.
Saavedra directs the Pediatric Balance Laboratory in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. While postural control of the trunk is essential for independent sitting and creates the basis for most functional movement, little is known about how trunk control normally develops or how it is constrained in children with motor impairment. Saavedra’s goal is to understand how segmental levels of trunk control influence and interact with sensorimotor function (e.g. eye-head-hand coordination, reaching, sitting, standing, and walking) during typical and atypical development. She designs longitudinal studies involving young infants with typical development and uses the information gained to design comparable studies involving children who have cerebral palsy or other neurologic deficits. In this manner she hopes to create theoretically sound and empirically proven treatments that will improve mobility and health in children with moderate-to-severe motor impairment.