Rochester, Minnesota




The research interests of Desiree J. Lanzino, P.T., Ph.D., focus on the application of evaluation techniques and outcome measures. Study participants have included groups of community-dwelling older adults, wheelchair users, and people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injury and acute hospitalization secondary to neurologic pathology.

Focus areas

  • Time to key events in people with ALS. ALS is a debilitating disease with known endpoints, early mortality, and often, key events such as the need to use a wheelchair or feeding tube. Second-year doctoral physical therapy students work under Dr. Lanzino's direction to extrapolate the timing of and functional activities surrounding the occurrence of these events in the lives of people living with the disease.
  • Clinical performance measures in ALS. Dr. Lanzino follows people with ALS during the courses of their disease, measuring limb and walking speed, strength, and changes in posture.
  • Use of the Life-Space Assessment (LSA). The LSA is an outcome measure indicative of the frequency and scope of household and community mobility. Dr. Lanzino is piloting a study on the use of the LSA in people seen in the seating clinic, and is recording LSA scores at the time of the clinic appointment and once equipment is received and utilized. A similar study involving people with spinal cord injury is near completion.

Significance to patient care

The goals of Dr. Lanzino's research are to inform health care practitioners of reliable and valid examination methods and outcome tools to use to assess patients. Specific work with people who have ALS aims to identify potential biomarkers to elucidate or predict disease progression and equipment needs.

Professional highlights

  • Outstanding Educator Award, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, 2013
  • Beniamino Guidetti Prize for the publication titled, "Brainstem cavernous malformations: Anatomical, clinical and surgical considerations," Italian Neurosurgical Society, 2012



  1. Doctor of Philosophy - Anatomy Medical College of Virginia - Virginia Commonwealth University
  2. BS - Physical Therapy West Virginia University

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