Matt obtained a MS in mechanical engineering and PhD in neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a BS/BA in mechanical engineering from the University of San Diego. His dissertation research primarily focused on improving gait initiation in people with Parkinson?s disease (PD) and freezing of gait (FOG) using a powered ankle foot orthosis. During his graduate career, he also worked on projects that examined the application of a powered ankle foot orthosis for gait assistance in persons with multiple sclerosis and perception vs. action coupling in firefighters wearing protective gear. He was awarded a MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2016 to develop quantitative measures of the mechanical and neurophysiological components of rigidity in PD. In 2017, he was awarded the Parkinson?s Study Group Mentored Clinical Research Award to evaluate an automated closed-looped algorithm to rapidly optimize deep brain stimulation settings for people with PD.

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of San Diego (2007)
  • Master of Science, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2016)
  • Bachelor of Science, University of San Diego (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2016)


All Publications

  • Modulation of anticipatory postural adjustments using a powered ankle orthosis in people with Parkinson's disease and freezing of gait. Gait & posture Petrucci, M. N., MacKinnon, C. D., Hsiao-Wecksler, E. T. 2019; 72: 188?94


    BACKGROUND: Freezing of gait (FOG) during gait initiation in people with Parkinson's disease (PD) may be related to a diminished ability to generate anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs). Externally applied perturbations that mimic the desired motion of the body during an APA have been demonstrated to shorten and amplify APAs; however, no portable device has been tested. In this study, a portable powered ankle-foot orthosis (PPAFO) testbed was utilized to investigate the effect of mechanical assistance, provided at the ankle joint, on the APAs during gait initiation.RESEARCH QUESTION: Does mechanical assistance provided at the ankle joint improve APAs during gait initiation in people with PD and FOG?METHODS: Thirteen participants with PD and FOG initiated gait across five test conditions: two self-initiated (uncued) conditions in walking shoes [Baseline-Shoes], and the PPAFO in unpowered passive mode [Baseline-PPAFOPassive]; three "go" cued conditions that included an acoustic tone with the PPAFO in unpowered passive mode [Acoustic+PPAFOPassive], the mechanical assistance from the PPAFO [PPAFOActive], and the acoustic tone paired with mechanical assistance [Acoustic+PPAFOActive]. A warning-cue preceded the imperative "go" cue for all the cued trials. Peak amplitudes and timings of the vertical ground reaction forces (GRFs) and center of pressure (COP) shifts from onset to toe-off were compared across conditions.RESULTS: Mechanical assistance significantly increased the peak amplitudes of the GRFs and COP shifts, reduced APA variability, and decreased the time to toe-off relative to the passive conditions.SIGNIFICANCE: These findings demonstrate the potential utility of mechanical assistance at the ankle joint (with or without an acoustic cue) as a method to generate more consistent, shortened, and amplified APAs in people with PD and FOG.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.05.002

    View details for PubMedID 31226601

  • A Neuromechanical Model of Reduced Dorsiflexor Torque During the Anticipatory Postural Adjustments of Gait Initiation IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL SYSTEMS AND REHABILITATION ENGINEERING Petrucci, M. N., DiBerardino, L. A., MacKinnon, C. D., Hsiao-Wecksler, E. T. 2018; 26 (11): 2210?16


    Anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) precede gait initiation and function to accelerate the center of mass forward and towards the initial stance leg. Impairments in APA generation, such as those seen in people with Parkinson's disease (PD), can impact the quality of the first step. An initial burst of activity in the dorsiflexor muscle (tibialis anterior) of the stepping leg is an important contributor to the posterior excursion of the center of pressure that accelerates the center of mass forward during an APA. Tibialis anterior activation can be diminished or absent in people with PD; however, the neuromechanical consequence of this diminished dorsiflexor torque on APA generation is not fully understood. Computational models of gait initiation that include components of the neuromuscular system may provide additional insight. In this paper, an inverted pendulum model of the body generated from healthy young adult data was used to simulate reduced dorsiflexor torque during an APA for gait initiation. Forward body lean angle and center of pressure were assessed over various settings of decreased dorsiflexor torque and compared to experimental data from a person with PD. Results from the model demonstrate that reducing the peak dorsiflexor torque by as little as 8-Nm may alter forward body lean and the center of pressure excursion from their nominal trajectories. These results can help inform how much torque is needed from an external device to effectively modulate APAs for gait initiation, as well as provide insight into compensation strategies for reduced dorsiflexor torque in pathology.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TNSRE.2018.2874991

    View details for Web of Science ID 000451250400013

    View details for PubMedID 30307872

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