Dr. Shirley Rietdyk

Department of Health and Kinesiology


Lambert Fieldhouse, Room 110A
(765) 496-6703


PhD, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada
MS, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada
BS, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada

Research Interests

Human gait; Adaptive locomotion; Trips and falls in humans; obstacle crossing

DR. Shirley Rietdyk

Research description

Dr. Rietdyk’s research focus is the interaction of the neural and mechanical systems in mobility, posture and balance. In particular, how does the nervous system integrate the visual and sensory information and coordinate the muscle activity to develop safe, balanced and skillful movement? The mechanical system is very unstable with a high center of mass, a small base of support, and three joints in the support limbs. Yet, we move about and interact with the environment with little conscious thought. Disease or aging may lead to delays and degenerations in the balance control system. Can we provide interventions which maintain mobility and quality of life for these individuals?

Selected Publications

Gomez SM, Dyke S, Rietdyk S (2017). Experimental verification of a structure-based model to describe pedestrian-bridge interaction. To appear: Journal of Bridge Engineering

Anand M, Seipel J, Rietdyk S (2017). A modelling approach to the dynamics of gait initiationJournal of The Royal Society Interface14(128), 20170043 

Liddy JJ, Zelaznik HN, Huber JE, Rietdyk S, Claxton LJ, Samuel A, Haddad JM (2016). The efficacy of Microsoft Kinect(TM) to assess human bimanual coordination. Behavioral Research Methods, pp:1-18 

Chagdes JR, Rietdyk S, Haddad JM, Zelaznik HN, Cinelli ME, Denomme L, Powers K, Raman A (2016). Limit cycle oscillations in standing human posture. Journal of Biomechanics, 49(7):1170-1179 

Chagdes JR, Huber JE, White MD, Rietdyk S, Zelaznik HN, Haddad JM (2016). The relationship between intermittent limit cycles and postural instability associated with Parkinson's disease. Journal of Sport and Health Science. 5(1):14-24

Kim A, Kim J, Rietdyk S, Ziaie B (2015). A wearable smartphone-enabled camera-based system for gait assessment. Gait and Posture, 42:138-144

Muir BC, Haddad JM, Rietdyk S (2015). Proactive gait strategies to mitigate risk of obstacle contact are more prevalent with advancing age. Gait and Posture. 41:233-239.

Heijnen MJH, Romine NL, Stumpf DM, Rietdyk S (2014). Memory guided obstacle crossing: more failures were observed for the trail limb versus lead limb. Experimental Brain Research, 232:2131-2142.

Muir BC, Rietdyk S, Haddad JM (2014). Gait initiation: the first four steps in young adults, adults aged 65-79 years, and adults aged 80-91 years. Gait and Posture, 39: 490-494.

Chagdes JC, Rietdyk S, Haddad JM, Zelaznik HN, Raman A (2013). Nonlinear dynamics of human postural stability on balance boards. Journal of Biomechanics, 46:2593-2602.

Haddad JM, Rietdyk S, Claxton LJ, Huber J (2013). Task-dependent postural control throughout the life-span. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 41:123-132.

Heijnen MJH, Muir BC, Rietdyk S (2012). Factors leading to obstacle contact during adaptive locomotion. Experimental Brain Research, 223:219-231.

Haddad JM, Rietdyk S, Claxton LJ (2012). Exercise training to improve independence and quality of life in impaired individuals: A commentary on Li and Hondzinski’s “Select exercise modalities may reverse movement dysfunction because of peripheral neuropathy” [Peer commentary by JM Haddad, S Rietdyk and LJ Claxton]. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 40:117.

Heijnen M, Muir B, Rietdyk S (2012). Interpolation techniques to reduce error in measurement of toe clearance during obstacle avoidance. Journal of Biomechanics, 45:196-198.

Rhea CK, Rietdyk S (2011). Influence of an unexpected perturbation on adaptive gait behavior. Gait and Posture, 34:439-441.

Haddad JM, Rietdyk S, Ryu JH, Seaman JM, Silver TA, Kalish JA, & Hughes C (2011). Postural asymmetries in response to holding evenly- and unevenly-distributed loads during self-selected stance. Journal of Motor Behavior, 43:345-355.

Rietdyk S & Rhea CK (2011). The effect of the visual characteristics of obstacles on risk of tripping and gait parameters during locomotion. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, Feature Issue on Vision in Everyday Life. 31, 302

Rhea CK, Rietdyk S, Haddad JM (2010). Locomotor adaptation versus perceptual adaptation when stepping over an obstacle with a height illusion. PLoS ONE 5:e11544.

Rietdyk S, Drifmeyer JE (2010). The rough terrain problem: Accurate foot targeting as a function of visual information regarding target location. Journal of Motor Behavior 42:37-48.

Chagdes JR, Rietdyk S, Haddad JM, Zelaznik HN, Raman A, Rhea C, Silver T (2009). Multiple timescales in postural dynamics associated with vision and a secondary task are revealed by wavelet analysis. Experimental Brain Research, 197: 297-310.

Kim J, Rietdyk S, Breur GJ (2008). Comparison of two-dimensional and three-dimensional systems for kinematic analysis of the sagittal motion of canine hind limbs during walking. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 69:116-1122.

Rhea CK, Rietdyk S (2007). Visual exteroceptive information provided during obstacle crossing did not modify the lower limb trajectory. Neuroscience Letters, 418:60-65.

Rietdyk S & Rhea CK (2006). Control of adaptive locomotion: Effect of visual obstruction and visual cues in the environment. Experimental Brain Research, 169:272-278.

Rietdyk S (2006). Anticipatory locomotor adjustments of the trail limb during surface accommodation. Gait and Posture, 23:268-272.

Rietdyk S, McGlothlin JD & Knezovich MJ (2005). Work experience mitigated age-related differences in balance and mobility during surface accommodation. Clinical Biomechanics, 20:1085-1093.

Rietdyk S, McGlothlin JD, Williams J & Baria A (2005). Proactive stability control while carrying loads and negotiating an elevated surface. Experimental Brain Research, 165:44-53.

Current Students

Hyeyoung Cho (Health and Kinesiology )
Expected Degree: PhD

Chuyi Cui (Health and Kinesiology)
Expected Degree: PhD

Past Students

Nathaniel Romine (MS - 2017).

  • Thesis title: Diverted gaze in obstacle crossing

Dr. Michel Heijnen (PhD – 2016)

  • Dissertation Title: Failures in adaptive locomotion in healthy young adults
  • Current Position (effective Aug 2016): Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington, North Carolina

Dr. Brittney Muir (Dual-title PhD in Health and Kinesiology and Gerontology; co-chair Dr. Haddad - 2015)

  • Dissertation Title: The effects of locomotor task challenge on the gait strategies of young, middle-aged, and older adults
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, The Sage Colleges, New York

Dr. James Chagdes (PhD – 2012; co-chair Dr. Raman, Department of Mechanical Engineering)

  • Dissertation Title: Nonlinear dynamics of human posture on rigid and compliant surfaces
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, College of Engineering and Computing, Miami University, Ohio

Dr. Christopher Rhea (PhD – 2009) 

  • Dissertation Title: Control of adaptive gait: effect of experience and light level on action and perception 
  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, School of Health and Human Sciences, University of North Carolina Greensboro, North Carolina

Samuel Pontecorvo (MS - 2015).

  • Thesis title: Gaze behavior during adaptive gait

Tiphanie Raffegeau (MS – 2013; co-chair Dr. Haddad). 

  • Thesis title: The relationship between mobility and communication in young healthy adults.
  • Current Position: PhD student, Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida

Brittney Muir (MS - 2011)

  • Thesis title: Improving Gait Characteristics in Older Adults: The Effects of Biodex Balance System SDTM and Wobble Board Balance Training
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, The Sage Colleges, New York

Leigh Schanfein (MS - 2009). 

  • Thesis title: The use of self-motion feedback for balance control in younger and older dancers
  • Current Position: Research Associate, Harness Center for Dance Injuries, NYULMC Hospital for Joint Diseases

 Julia Drifmeyer (MS - 2008). 

  • Thesis title: Control of Locomotion:  The Effect of Visual Obstruction and Visual Cues
  • Current Position: Fellow, Public Health Prevention Service Program at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Steven Torgerud (MS - 2004). 

  • The effect of age on balance in the work environment
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Palmer College of Chiropractic

Jeff McCarty (MS - 2002)

  • Biomechanical analysis of golf putting