Dr. Sam Nemanich - Pediatric Movement and Neuroscience Lab

What do we study?

We are interested in how the brain makes our bodies move, and how the developing brains of children learn and execute movement. We also study children who have movement impairments due to atypical development, like children born prematurely. Through this knowledge, we hope to develop movement-based and other complementary therapies to improve movement and long-term functioning.

How do we study it?

We measure movement through standardized movement assessments, movement tasks, and by recording electrical activity in muscles (electromyography-EMG).

We measure brain activity using non-invasive devices. One is called electroencephalography (EEG), which involves placing small electrodes on the scalp to measure electrical potentials in the brain. Another is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which applies magnetic energy to create electrical currents in the brain.

We can also change or modify brain function through transcranial electrical stimulation (tES). These devices uses low levels of electrical energy applied to the outside of the head. This has potential to be applied while people are engaged in exercise or other movement-based therapy to improve the brain’s neuroplasticity and to enhance recovery.

Where are we located?

Department of Occupational Therapy
1700 Building, Room 031
1700 W. Wells St
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Interested in joining the team?

Contact Dr. Nemanich directly about research opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students.


About the PI

Dr. Nemanich earned his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering in 2010 from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Following a 2-year research assistant position, he was accepted into the Movement Science PhD program in the Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Under the mentorship of Dr. Gammon Earhart, he studied gait and movement control in people with Parkinson’s disease in pursuit of a PhD. During this time, he also completed a 2-year translational science predoctoral training fellowship and a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation (MSCI). Following his PhD, Dr. Nemanich began a postdoctoral research position in the lab of Dr. Bernadette Gillick at the University of Minnesota. Here, he trained using neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to study the brain and movement control. It was during this research position that Dr. Nemanich also fostered his interests in child motor development through studies of children with cerebral palsy due to stroke early in life. His work as a postdoctoral researcher contributed to some of the first studies to use non-invasive neuromodulation in children and infants with stroke. This postdoctoral position was capped off by a 1 year NIH StrokeNet postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Nemanich joined the Marquette OT faculty in June 2020.

Select Publications

Nemanich, S. T., Chen, C. Y., Chen, M., Zorn, E., Mueller, B., Peyton, C., Elison, J. T., Stinear, J., Rao, R., Georgieff, M., Menk, J., Rudser, K., & Gillick, B. (2019). Safety and Feasibility of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as an Exploratory Assessment of Corticospinal Connectivity in Infants After Perinatal Brain Injury: An Observational Study. Phys Ther, 99(6), 689-700. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzz028

Nemanich, S. T., Mueller, B. A., & Gillick, B. T. (2019). Neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging quantifies corticospinal tract microstructural organization in children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Hum Brain Mapp. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24744

Nemanich, S. T., Rich, T. L., Chen, C.-Y., Menk, J., Rudser, K., Chen, M., Meekins, G., & Gillick, B. T. (2019). Influence of Combined Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Motor Training on Corticospinal Excitability in Children With Unilateral Cerebral Palsy. Front Hum Neurosci, 13, 137.

Nemanich, S. T., Rich, T. L., Gordon, A. M., Friel, K. M., & Gillick, B. T. (2019). Bimanual Skill Learning after Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy: A Brief Report. Dev Neurorehabil, 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1080/17518423.2019.1600065

Rich, T. L., Nemanich, S., Chen, C. Y., Sutter, E. N., Feyma, T., Krach, L. E., & Gillick, B. T. (2020). Ipsilateral Corticospinal Tract Excitability Contributes to the Severity of Mirror Movements in Unilateral Cerebral Palsy: A Case Series. Clin EEG Neurosci, 51(3), 185-190. https://doi.org/10.1177/1550059419899323

Rich, T. L., Nemanich, S., Chen, M., Friel, K., Feyma, T., Krach, L., Nawshin, T., Meekins, G., & Gillick, B. T. (2018). Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Paired with Occupation-Centered Bimanual Training in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy: A Preliminary Study. Neural Plast, 2018, 9610812. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9610812

Gillick, B., Rich, T., Nemanich, S., Chen, C. Y., Menk, J., Mueller, B., Chen, M., Ward, M., Meekins, G., Feyma, T., Krach, L., & Rudser, K. (2018). Transcranial direct current stimulation and constraint-induced therapy in cerebral palsy: A randomized, blinded, sham-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Paediatr Neurol, 22(3), 358-368. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2018.02.001

Kowalski, J. L., Nemanich, S. T., Nawshin, T., Chen, M., Peyton, C., Zorn, E., Hickey, M., Rao, R., Georgieff, M., Rudser, K., & Gillick, B. T. (2019). Motor Evoked Potentials as Potential Biomarkers of Early Atypical Corticospinal Tract Development in Infants with Perinatal Stroke. J Clin Med, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8081208