Victoria A. Moerchen, PT, Ph.D.

Associate Professor; Director, Pediatric Neuromotor Laboratory

[Image] Victoria Moerchen

Pavilion, Room 366
Phone: (414) 229-2449
Fax: (414) 229-3366




  • Post-doctoral scholar, Motor Development, University of Michigan, 2002-3
  • Ph.D., Motor Control and Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002
  • M.S., Therapeutic Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994
  • B.S., Physical Therapy, Northwestern University School of Medicine, 1987
  • B.A., Bio-Psychology, Lawrence University, 1986

Speaker Topics

  • Motor Development and Developmental Motor Control
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy Curricula
  • Treadmill Use With Children
  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Motor Development and Ventilation

Interests & Expertise

Dr. Moerchen’s research has both a basic science and a translational trajectory, where each intentionally informs the other. The basic science component of her work is aimed at understanding developmental transitions and emergent motor control during infancy and toddler development. She is particularly interested in early sensorimotor integration and socio-motor interaction with the environment. The translational component of Dr. Moerchen’s research is aimed at enhancing social interaction and physical activity in infants with neuromotor delays, with a particular interest in clinical populations with global developmental delays, including spina bifda, Down syndrome, and autism.

Dr. Moerchen’s scholarship marries developmental and motor control theory with clinical reality, and the ecological slant to her work is increasingly shaped by family-systems perspectives. Having worked as a clinician for 15 years in early intervention prior to her research career, she is interested in addressing not only the issues of how to get infants more active and walking earlier, but also how best to deliver this intervention in a way that is both efficient and ecologically relevant to the natural course of early development. At present, Dr. Moerchen utilizes an infant treadmill paradigm to examine basic science and clinical questions.

Current research collaborators include Rachel Schiffman, PhD, RN, FAAN (Nursing, UWM); Paula Rhyner, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-CL, ASHA Fellow (Communications Sciences and Disorders, UWM); and Beverly Ulrich, PhD (Kinesiology, University of Michigan).

Recent Publications

Peer-reviewed Journals

Sansom, J. K., Teulier, C., Smith, B. A., Moerchen, V. A., Murazko, K., & Ulrich, B. D. (in review). Muscle activation patterns in infants with myelomeningocele stepping on a treadmill without practice. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Habibi, M., Klemer, D., & Moerchen, V. (in review). Comparison of computer-based methods for identification of muscle activity onset in infant EMG. (Journal of Kinesiology and Electromyography).

Massery, M., Haggins, M., Stafford, R., Moerchen, V. A., Hodges, P. (2013). The Effect of Airway Control by Glottal Structures on Postural Stability. Journal of Applied Physiology [Epub ahead of print].

Sansom, J. K., Teulier, C., Smith, B. A., Moerchen, V. A., Muraszko, K., & Ulrich, B. D. (2013). Muscle Activation Patterns in Infants with Myelomeningocele Stepping on a Treadmill. Pediatric Physical Therapy [Epub ahead of print].

Moerchen, V., & Hoefakker, H. (2013). Immediate responses of infants with spina bifida to contextual and manual sensory augmentation during treadmill stepping. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 25(1), 36-45.

Moerchen, V. A., & Saeed, M. E. (2012). Visual attention and step respon­siveness to visual flow during treadmill stepping in infants with typical development. Infant Behavior and Development, 35, 711-718.

Schreiber, J., Goodgold, S., Moerchen, V. A., Remec, N., Aaron, C., & Kreger, A. (2011). A description of professional pediatric physical therapy education. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 23(2), 201–204.

Ewalt, L. A., Danduran, M. J., Strath, S. J., Moerchen, V. A., & Swartz, A. M. (2011). Objectively assessed physical activity and sedentary behavior does not differ between children and adolescents with and without a congeitial heart defect: A pilot examination. Cardiology in the Young, 23, 1-8.

Schreiber, J., Goodgold, S., Moerchen, V., Remec, N., & Kreger, A. (2011). Entry-level pediatric curricula: Survey of accredited DPT programs. Pediatric Physical Therapy.

Littleton, S., Heriza, C., Mullens, P., Moerchen, V., & Bjorson, K. (2011). Effects of positioning on respiratory measurements in individuals with cerebral palsy and severe scoliosis. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 23(2), 159-169.

Pantall, A., Teulier, C., Smith, B., Moerchen, V., & Ulrich, B. (2011). Optimization of the treadmill context to elicit steps in infants born with myelomengingocele. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 23(1), 42-52.

Moerchen, V. A., Habibi, M., Lynett, K. A., Konrad, J. D., & Hoefakker, H. L. (2011). Treadmill training and overground gait: Decision-making for a toddler with Spina Bifida. Pediatric Physical Therapy 23(1), 53-61.

Teulier, C., Smith, B. A., Kubo, M., Chang, C-L, Moerchen, V. A., Muraszko, K., & Ulrich, B. D. (2009). Stepping responses of infants with myelomeningocele when supported on a motorized treadmill. Physical Therapy, 89 (1), 60-72.

Moerchen, V. A., Lazarus, J. C., & Gruben, K. G. (2007). Thumb and index finger forces during pinch exhibit strong but flexible coupling. Experimental Brain Research, 180(2), 367-376.

Meyers, S. E. Whitman, B. Y., Carrel, A. L. Moerchen, V. A., Bekx, M. T. & Allen, D. B. (2007). Two years of growth hormone therapy in young children with Prader Willi syndrome: Physical and neurodevelopmental effects. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 143(5), 443-448.


Perez, Z., Riordan, M., Kolar, K., Moerchen, V. A. (2013). When might directionality in treadmill stepping with infants be introduced? Poster presented at Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association, San Diego, CA, January 22-24, 2013.

Saeed, T., & Moerchen, V. A. (2013). Hope, Stress and Worry Among Parents of Children with Autism and Down syndrome. Poster presented at Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association, San Diego, CA, January 22-24, 2013.

Moerchen, V. A., & Hoefakker, H. L. (2011). Enhancing the treadmill context: Implications for practice with infants with myelomeningocele. Poster presented at World Confederation for Physical Therapy, World Congress. Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 2011.

Stoffel, V. C., Choi, Y., & Moerchen, V. A. (2011). Using Photovoice to Explore the Lived Experiences of Three Mothers of Children with Autism: Giving Voice to Mothers From Under-Represented Groups. Presented at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference & Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, April 15, 2011.

Lynett, K. A., Rhyner, P., & Moerchen, V. (2011). Effect of instruction on the parent-infant communicative interaction during treadmill stepping. Poster and invited oral presentation presented at the Spring 2011 annual College of Health Sciences Research Symposium.

Habibi, M., Moerchen, V., & Klemer, D. (2010). Onset detection in electromyographic signals from infants with spina bifida. Poster presented at UWM College of Engineering and Applied Science Spring Research Meeting.

Moerchen, V., Jones, A., Choi, Y., & Stoffel, V. (2010). Parent Hope: Initial outcomes of a modified scale. Poster presented at the 3rd Annual Pediatric Behavioral Health Research Conference. Milwaukee, WI. February, 2010.

Moerchen, V. A., Konrad, J. D., Lynett, K. A., & Saeed, M. E. (2010). Visual attention to terrestrial flow in infants with spina bifida and infants with typical development. Poster presented at the Combined Sections Meeting, American Physical Therapy Association, San Diego, CA, February, 2010.

Moerchen, V. A., Lynett, K. A., Konrad, J. D., Hoefakker, H. L., & Kulisnski, K. (2010). Treadmill training to promote overground gait in a toddler with spina bifida: A case study. Poster presented at the Combined Sections Meeting, American Physical Therapy Association, San Diego, CA, February, 2010.

Moerchen, V. A., Saeed, M. E., & Lynett K. A. (2009). Infant stepping on a support surface in the presence of directionally consistent optic flow information increases complexity of stepping. Poster presented at Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL., Nov 2009.

Ewalt, L. E., Swartz, A. M., Strath, S. J., Danduran, M. J., Moerchen, V. A., & Smith, J. C. (2009). A comparison of physical activity levels between children with and without a congenital heart defect. Poster presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, National Meeting. Seattle WA, May 2009.

Moerchen, V. A., & Saeed, M. E. (2009). Patterned treadmill belt as optic flow: 7-10 month old pre locomotor infants respond with organized stepping. Poster presented at Society for Research and Child Development, Denver, CO, April 2009.

Moerchen, V. A., Lynett, K. A., Konrad, J. D., & Saeed M. E. (2009). Enhanced sensory information augments step output: Treadmill stepping in infants with spina bifida. Poster presented at the First World Congress on Spina Bifida Research and Care, Orlando, FL, March 2009.

Moerchen, V. A. (2008). Translational research in pediatrics: Baby steps to an intervention. Platform presentation at the 5th International Conference on Health Care Systems, Milwaukee, WI. October, 2008.

Moerchen, V. A. (2008). Treadmill stepping in infants: From basic science to intervention. Invited presentation at the Spring meeting of the Wisconsin Maternal and Child Health Bureau Training Programs. April, 2008.

Konrad, J. D., & Moerchen, V. A. (2008). To brace or not to brace: Treadmill training for a pre-ambulatory toddler with an L4 level myelomeningocele. Poster presented at the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, spring conference, Platteville, WI, April 2008.

Vorpahl, K., & Moerchen, V. (2008). Kangeroo care. Poster presented at the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, spring conference, Platteville, WI, April 2008.

Saeed, M. E., & Moerchen, V.A. (2008). Infant response to visual flow during treadmill stepping. Poster presented at the Combined Sections Meeting, American Physical Therapy Association, Nashville, TN, February 2008.

Moerchen, V. A., Gruben, K. G., & Lazarus, J. C. (2007). Age related changes in accurate performance of a visually guided force task. Poster presented at Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov 2007.

Benner, S., Moerchen, V., & Long, T. (2007). Observational learning of a novel motor skill in children with cognitive delays. Poster presented at World Congress Physical Therapy, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 2007.

Recent Funded Grants

06/2011 – 05/2016. The UW-Milwaukee Pipeline Training Initiative . CFDA #93.110 HRSA 06-077. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Director: L. de Oliveira; Co-director: Moerchen. ($667,837).

01/2010 – 08/2011. Impact of motor task on treadmill stepping. College of Health Sciences, UWM, Stimulus for Extramural Enhancement & Development Program. PI: Moerchen; Co-I: P. Rhyner. ($10,000).

10/2009 – 6/2012. Pre-Professional Clinician-scholars: Introducing undergraduates to both sides of translational research in maternal and child health. Office of Undergraduate Research UWM. 
Director: V. Moerchen; Co-directors: P. Rhyner and S. Lund. ($10,000).

04/2006 – 02/2011. Sensorimotor development: Infants born with spina bifida. National Institutes of Health – NICHD, R01-HD047567. PI – Beverly Ulrich; Co-I:V. Moerchen & B. Martin. $1,303, 557 (total costs).

Honors & Awards

  • Clinical Research Scholar (2011-2013). Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin, NIH-K30 Program.
  • Fellow, Summer Research Training Institute on Single-Case Intervention Research Design and Analysis, Institute on Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research. Madison, WI, June 27-July 1, 2011.
  • Award for Outstanding Abstract and Presentation. International Organisation of Physical Therapists in Paediatrics. “Enhancing the treadmill context: Implications for practice with infants with myelomeningocele.” Presented at World Confederation of Physical Therapy, World Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 2011.
  • Mentor of the Year, 2009 (Awarded April 2010). Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association.
  • NIH Junior Faculty Scholarship. III-Step Conference, American Physical Therapy Association, Salt Lake city, Utah. July 2005.

Current and Previous Activities

Scientific Activities
  • Ad hoc manuscript reviewer for 6 peer-reviewed journals: Pediatric Physical Therapy; Child Development; Journal of Neurophysiology; Journal of Motor Behavior; Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
  • Ad hoc grant reviewer for NIDRR, field initiated grant proposals, (2010-2011).
  • Research Chair, Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, 2009-present.
  • Invited comment on the NIH, NICHD Research Plan for Down syndrome, 2007.