A.B., 1991 Economics, Princeton University
M.A., 1998, Clinical (Medical) Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Ph.D., 2001, Clinical (Medical) Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Dr. Uswatte has two
main areas of research. The first is the application of
behavioral principles to the rehabilitation of movement
after neurological injury. The second is the study of human
psychological strengths such as hope, kindness, and
His main line of research involves the development of
real-world measures of motor behavior. The consensus in
physical rehabilitation is that functional activity in the
community is the most important treatment outcome.
Furthermore, data suggest that there is often dissociation
between motor performance in the laboratory and behavior at
home. Dr. Uswatte has developed a new, objective measure of
arm movement in real-world environments using portable,
wireless accelerometers that measure movement in real time.
The instrument was adopted by a group of leading
investigators in neurorehabilitation as an outcome measure
in the first large multi-site clinical trial of an
upper-extremity rehabilitation treatment. The aim of his
current research is to develop a wireless network of sensors
attached to frequently manipulated objects in a patient’s
home to capture a rich, objective picture of real-world arm
use (as opposed to movement). The development of such
measures will enable clinical researchers to best
discriminate those interventions that make the greatest
practical impact on the daily lives of persons with
Dr. Uswatte also works in close collaboration with Dr.
Edward Taub, University Professor in the Department of
Psychology. Dr. Taub’s laboratory has developed and
evaluated a new family of rehabilitation techniques, called
Constraint-Induced Movement therapy or CI therapy, over the
last 20 years. This behavioral therapy is based on
behavioral neuroscience research conducted with monkeys. It
was described in a recent review article as one of the few
treatments in rehabilitation for which there was empirical
evidence of efficacy. Current research projects include (a)
examining what components of the treatment are responsible
for the robust changes CI therapy produces in
stroke-affected arm function and brain physiology and
anatomy, (b) developing methods for automating training, and
(c) adapting this treatment approach to stroke survivors who
have been too low functioning to be included in CI therapy
protocols to date, i.e., those with only a flicker of active
movement remaining in their more-impaired hand.
Dr. Uswatte’s second area of research is the study of human
psychological strengths such as hope, kindness, and
gratitude. Psychology, in the last half-century, has
developed a rich body of knowledge about human frailties
such as depression, anxiety, and other maladaptive mental
states. Although humanistic and other psychologists have
addressed human strengths, such as spirituality and a drive
for self-actualization, “positive” aspects of human
psychology have not, until relatively recently, been studied
using empirical methods. Dr. Uswatte’s current work in this
area aims to explore the role of psychological strengths
such as kindness, gratitude, and curiosity in enhancing the
relationships between persons with disabling injuries and
their partners, the mental and physical health of such
couples, and the retention of gains made in rehabilitation
by the partner with the disability.
Dr. Uswatte’s research has been funded by the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institute on
Disability and Rehabilitation Research, National Institutes
of Health, James S. McDonnell Foundation, American Heart
Association, and Positive Psychology Network. He received
the Mitchell Rosenthal Early Career Research Award from the
Division of Rehabilitation Psychology of the American
Psychological Association in 2008.
Giuliani, C., Winstein, C., Zeringue, A., Hobbs, L., & Wolf,
S. (2006). Validity of accelerometry for monitoring
real-world arm activity in patients with subacute stroke:
evidence from the Extremity Constraint-Induced Therapy
Evaluation trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation, 87, 1340-1345.
Uswatte, G., Taub, E., Morris, D., Light, K., & Thompson, P.
(2006). The Motor Activity Log-28: assessing daily use of
the hemiparetic arm after stroke. Neurology, 67, 1189-1194.
Taub, E., Uswatte, G., King, D. K., Morris, D. M., Crago, J.
E., & Chatterjee, A. (2006). A placebo controlled trial of
Constraint-Induced Movement therapy for upper extremity
after stroke. Stroke, 37, 1045-1049.
Wolf, S. L., Winstein, C. J., Miller, J. P., Taub, E.,
Uswatte, G., Morris, D., Giuliani, C., Light, K. E., &
Nichols-Larsen, D. (2006). Effect of Constraint-Induced
Movement therapy on upper extremity function 3-9 months
after stroke: the EXCITE randomized clinical trial. JAMA,
Kashdan, T. B., Uswatte, G., Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude
and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam War
veterans. Behavior Research and Therapy, 44, 177-199.
Lum, P.S., Uswatte, G., Taub, E., Hardin, P., & Mark, V.
(2006). A tele-rehabilitation approach to delivery of
Constraint-Induced Movement therapy. Journal of
Rehabilitation Research and Development, 43, 391-400.
Gauthier, L. V., Taub, E., Perkins, C., Ortmann, M., Mark,
V. W., & Uswatte, G. (2008). Remodeling the brain: plastic
structural brain changes produced by different motor
therapies after stroke. Stroke, 39, 1520-1525.
Uswatte, G, & Qadri Hobbs, L. (2009). A behavioral
observation system for quantifying arm activity in daily
life after stroke. Rehabilitation Psychology, 54, 398-403.
Dunn, D. S., Uswatte, G., & Elliott, T. R. (2009).
Happiness, resilience and positive growth following
disability: issues for understanding, research, and
therapeutic intervention. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez
(Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp.
651-654). New York: Oxford University Press.
Uswatte, G., & Taub, E. (in press). You can teach an old dog
new tricks: harnessing neuroplasticity after brain injury in
older adults. In P. S. Fry & C. L. M. Keyes (Eds.), New
Frontiers in Resilient Aging. Cambridge, England: Cambridge
teaching interests include research methods, statistics,
and the psychology of strengths and virtues (positive
area of clinical specialization is rehabilitation