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Dr. D. Michele Basso, EdD, MA, BS


Associate Director, School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesBasso.jpg
Associate Professor

Contact Information:

D. Michele Basso, PT, EdD.
106 Atwell Hall
The Ohio State University
453 West Tenth Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
Telephone: 614-292-0754
Fax: 614-292-0210



Physical Therapy (BS), University of Utah, 1984

Motor Learning (MA), Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1986

Motor Learning (EdD), Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1991

Clinical Expertise:

7 year of clinical experience in home health physical therapy with an emphasis on neurological and orthopedic impairments

Teaching Responsibilities:

Seminar series in Research and Evidence Based Practice

Professional Activities:

Member, American Physical Therapy Association

Member, Society for Neuroscience

My primary area of service has focused on establishing liaisons between the university and the under represented members of the community. To this end, I have created several community outreach activities directed toward education of African Americans across the lifespan. Two of my favorite activities were a hands-on neuroscience workshop series for high school students and an interactive seminar for the identification of diseases which primarily occur in African American Women. I have also served on the Senate Diversity Committee for OSU.

My other professional activities are in the area of research. I have developed several symposia for state and national meetings in the areas of spinal cord injury rehabilitation and the use of evidence based practice in PT. I have served on NIH study sections twice and serve as a reviewer for several scientific and PT journals.


1997, University Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, Ohio State University
2000, Research Award, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Scholarly Activity:

My research interests focus on recovery of motor function after central nervous system (CNS) injury. Crucial to this type of research is the ability to not only assess normal and aberrant behavior but also analyze structures within the CNS in terms of response to injury and contribution to recovery. My research aims are to:

1) Develop more sensitive behavioral assessment techniques

In the course of my research, I have developed new analytical approaches for several traditional behavioral tests which enabled us to detect differences in the rate and extent of recovery after mild and moderate spinal cord contusion (SCI)(Basso et al 1993). To date, my major contribution to the field of spinal cord injury research was the development of a gross behavioral assessment tool for locomotion, the Basso Beattie Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale, which has become the tool of choice by SCI researchers around the world (Basso et al 1995, 1996). Given the impact of the BBB scale, I have recently developed a new locomotor assessment scale for mice with spinal cord injury. This work is being done to support the research of the prestigious Spinal Cord Injury Consortium of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

2) Identify the contribution of specific neural components to motor performance within the normal and lesioned CNS

Spinal cord contusion usually results in a central core lesion surrounded by spared neural tissue. My work and previous studies have shown that the spared descending brainstem and spinal cord systems are responsible for locomotor recovery in rats (Basso et al 1996). We have also shown that recovery in the presence of only a few spared axons (less than 2%) significantly contributes to reorganization of spinal systems below the level of the lesion (Basso et al, 1996; Wang et al 1998). Therefore, a major focus of my research is to identify the source, number, trajectory and terminations of spared axonal fibers that serve as substrates for functional recovery. As an extension of this work, I have an NIH RO1 to determine which descending systems are most susceptible to SCI, which pathways are the primary mediators of recovery of function and which tracts respond to specific exercise training strategies to promote robust recovery.
An extension of this research focus seeks to determine the parameters of exercise training that induce the greatest amount of locomotor recovery in rats after moderate SCI. We are currently identifying the mechanisms and efficacy of therapeutic intervention on muscle, peripheral nerve and spinal cord after traumatic SCI (Hutchinson et al 2001). Given that many interventions used in animals with SCI have been shown to be effective in humans with SCI, the clinical relevance of animal based research becomes apparent and can serve as a foundation for therapeutic clinical trials (Basso et al, Neurology Report 2000).

3) Develop new therapeutic approaches to enhance functional recovery after CNS injury

As a physical therapist, I understand first-hand the importance of developing treatments based on our expanding knowledge of the nervous system and its response to injury. An integral part of my work is devoted to establishing and evaluating treatment interventions after CNS injury. I helped to set up a body weight support treadmill training laboratory for patients with SCI at OSU. We participated in the first multicenter clinical trial in the history of neurorehabilitation which focused on this type of training after acute SCI. Human treadmill training not only represents the cutting-edge of therapeutic intervention after SCI but also reflects the synthesis of my training as a physical therapist and a basic scientist.

Publications (Past 10 Years):

Herbert WJ, Heiss DG, Basso DM. Influence of feedback schedule in motor performance and learning of a lumbar multifidus muscle task using rehabilitative ultrasound imaging: a randomized clinical trial. Physical Therapy. 2008;88:261-269.
Ditunno JF Jr, Barbeau H, Dobkin BH, Elashoff R, Harkema S, Marino RJ, Hauck WW, Apple D, Basso DM, Behrman A, Deforge D, Fugate L, Saulino M, Scott M, Chung J; Spinal Cord Injury Locomotor Trial Group. Validity of the walking scale for spinal cord injury and other domains of function in a multicenter clinical trial. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2007 Nov-Dec;21(6):539-50.

Williams PS, Basso DM, Case-Smith J, Nichols-Larsen DS. Development of the Hand Active Sensation Test: reliability and validity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Nov;87(11):1471-7.

Wang X, Baughman KW, Basso DM, Strittmatter SM. Delayed Nogo receptor therapy improves recovery from spinal cord contusion. Ann Neurol. 2006 Nov;60(5):540-9. 

Basso DM, Fisher LC, Anderson AJ, Jakeman LB, McTigue DM, Popovich PG (2006). Basso Mouse Scale for locomotion detects differences in recovery after spinal cord injury in five common mouse strains. J Neurotrauma. 2006 May;23(5):635-59.

Engesser-Cesar C, Anderson AJ, Basso DM, Edgerton VR, Cotman CW (2005). Voluntary wheel running improves recovery from a moderate spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma. 2005 Jan;22(1):157-71.

Kloos AD, Fisher LC, Detloff MR, Hassenzahl DL, Basso DM (2005). Stepwise motor and all-or-none sensory recovery is associated with nonlinear sparing after incremental spinal cord injury in rats. Exp Neurol. 2005 Feb;191(2):251-65.

Basso DM (2004) Behavioral testing after Spinal Cord Injury: congruities, complexities and controversies. J Neurotrauma. 2004 Apr;21(4):395-404. Review.

Jones TB, Ankeny DP, Guan Z, McGaughy V, Fisher LC, Basso DM, Popovich PG (2004). Passive or active immunization with myelin basic protein impairs neurological function and exacerbates neuropathology after spinal cord injury in rats.
J Neurosci. 2004 Apr 14;24(15):3752-61.

Hutchinson KJ, Gomez-Pinilla F, Crowe MJ, Ying Z, Basso DM (2004). Three exercise paradigms differentially improve sensory recovery after spinal cord contusion in rats. Brain. 2004 Jun;127(Pt 6):1403-14. Epub 2004 Apr 6.

Heiss DG and Basso DM (2003) Improvements in students’ confidence in their ability to interpret and apply research to clinical practice after participating in a mock trial. Journal of Allied Health, September

Popovich PG, Guan Z, McGaughy V, Fisher L, Hickey WF, Basso DM (2002) The neuropathological and behavioral consequences of intrapsinal microglial/macrophage activation. J Neuropath Exp Neur 61:623-33.

Basso DM, Beattie MS, Bresnahan JC. (2002) Descending systems contributing to locomotor recovery after mild or moderate spinal cord injury in rats. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 20:189-218.

Jones TB, Basso DM, McCallum B, Lee S, Whitacre CC, Popovich PG. (2002) Pathological central nervous system autoimmune disease is triggered by traumatic spinal cord injury. J Neurosci, 22:2690-2700.

Ma M, Basso DM, Walters P, Stokes BT, Jakeman LB. (2001) Behavioral and histological outcomes following graded spinal cord contusion injury in the C57Bl/6 mouse. Experimental Neurology, 169:239-254.

Hutchinson KJ, Linderman JK, Basso DM. (2001) Time course of skeletal muscle adaptations to spinal cord contusion injury in rat: Relationship to locomotor function. Journal of Neurotrauma, 18:1075-1089.

Basso DM. (2000) Neuroanatomical substrates of functional recovery after experimental spinal cord injury: Implications of basic science research for human spinal cord injury. Physical Therapy, 80:808-817.

Basso DM, Behrman AL, Harkema SJ. (2000) Recovery of walking after central nervous system insult: Basic research in the control of locomotion as a foundation for developing rehabilitation strategies. Neurology Report, 24:47-54.

Wang XM, Basso DM, Terman JR, Bresnahan JC, Martin GF. (1998) Adult opossums (Didelphis virginiana) demonstrate near normal locomotion after spinal cord transection as neonates. Experimental Neurology, 151:50-69.

Basso DM. (1998) Neuroplasticity of descending and segmental systems after spinal cord contusion. Neurology Report, 22:48-53.

Basso DM, Beattie MS, Bresnahan JC. (1996) Graded histological and locomotor outcomes after spinal cord contusion using the NYU weight-drop device versus transection. Experimental Neurology, 139:244-256.

Basso DM, Beattie MS, Bresnahan JC, Anderson DK, Faden AI, Gruner JA, Holford TR, Hsu CY, Noble LJ, Nockels R, Perot PL, Salzman SK, Young W. (1996) MASCIS evaluation of open field locomotor scores: Effects of experience and teamwork on reliability. Journal of Neurotrauma, 13:343-359.

Basso DM, Beattie MS, Bresnahan JC. (1995) A sensitive and reliable locomotor rating scale for open field testing in rats. Journal of Neurotrauma, 12:1-21.

Basso DM, Murray M, Goldberger ME. (1994) Differential recovery of bipedal and overground locomotion following complete spinal cord hemisection in cats. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 7:95-110.

Bresnahan JC, Beattie MS, Berhmann DL, Basso DM. (1994) Pharmacologic enhancement of recovery of function after spinal cord injury. Activity-dependent plasticity: Enhancing recovery after spinal cord injury. APA Conference Proceedings, pp 273-276.

Fun Facts:

I was born and raised in a small mining and ranch town in Nevada so living in “cowtown”, as Columbus is affectionately known, seems quite normal to me. I am an avid waterskiier but not much of a sailor…as Deb Kegelmeyer so aptly proved a few summers ago. I became intimately aware of how the “boom” got its name when I was struck in the head and nearly knocked overboard. I now understand the term “coming about” to mean regaining consciousness! All of my spare time is spent with my wonderful husband, Scott and my “little mister” Winston and my daughter Sienna. Winston and I are huge buckeye fans but Scott’s allegiance lies with his alma mater, Penn State. This makes for a tense weekend or two during football and basketball season. Scott and I love to travel. I have been to Japan, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and Mexico. We are turning our children into travelers as well. ​