Faculty Profile

Gail Widener
Doctor of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been a wonderful career for me. I have practiced in several areas including sports medicine, acute care, neurorehabilitation and geriatrics and in many different settings. My research focuses on ways to improve mobility and balance in people with neurodegenerative diseases, particularly mutliple sclerosis and cerebellar ataxia.

I have worked in many physical therapy settings: acute care, outpatient and home care. My favorite of these settings is home care - it is where PTs can have a dramatic impact on patient's lives - working with people in the environment in which they have to function. When I'm not teaching or being involved in research, I spend my time with my family: a husband, two boys and a dog. We enjoy camping and traveling. We live in Oakland and love its great food, people, activities and proximity to everything in the Bay Area.

University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, 1984- 1989, Physiology, Ph.D.

Texas Woman's University, Denton and Houston, Texas, 1980, Physical Therapy, B.S.

University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1975-1977, Pre-physical therapy

I am currently interested in investigating balance and functional mobility in elderly people and people with neurological insults. Of particular interest is evaluating balance dysfunction in people with multiple sclerosis. I have received funding from Samuel Merritt University, the California Physical Therapy fund and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for my research.

I teach Clinical Exercise Physiology,  Neuroscience I and III, Pathology and Pharmacology I and II and Research III.

Hunt CM, Widener GL, Gibson-Horn C, Allen DD. Postural control in standing with and without balance-based torso weighting in people with multiple sclerosis and healthy controls. Phys Ther. 2014; 94:

Cohen ET, Allen DD, Bennett SE, Brandfass KG, Widener GL, Yorke AM. Outcome measures for individuals with multiple sclerosis: recommendations from the american physical therapy association neurology section task force. Phys Ther. 2014; 94(5):593-608.

Widener GL, Allen DD. Measurement characteristics and clinical utility of the 29-item Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Mar;95(3):593-4.

Crittendon A, O’Neill D, Widener GL, Allen DD. Standing data disproves biomechanical mechanism for balance-based torso-weighting. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014; 95(1): 43-9.

Allen DD, Widener GL. Ch 5 Tone Abnormalities, In: Physical Agents in Rehabilitation: From Research to Practice, 4th edition. Elsevier; St. Louis, MO: 2013.

Widener GL. Ch 19, Multiple Sclerosis, In: Neurological Rehabilitation, 6th edition. Umphred D, Lazaro R, Roller M editors. Mosby; St. Louis, MO: 2012.

Widener GL, Allen DA, Gibson-Horn C. Randomized clinical trial of balance-based torso-weighting for improving upright mobility in people with multiple sclerosis. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2009;23(8):784-791

Widener GL, Gibson-Horn C, Allen DA. Balance-Based Torso-Weighting May Enhance Balance in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: Preliminary Evidence. Arch Phys Med Rehab. 2009; 90:602-609

Liquori A, Widener G, Clark C. Effects of a 6-week prenatal water exercise program on physiological parameters and well-being in women with pregnancies in the 2nd-3rd trimesters: A pilot study. J of Section on Women's Health, 2003; 27(3): 11-19

McGibbon NH, Andrade CK, Widener GL, Cintas HL. Effect of hippotherapy on energy expenditure during gait in children with cerebral palsy. Dev Med Child Neurol. 1998, 40: 754-762

Widener GL, Cheney PD. Effects on muscle activity from microstimuli applied to somatosensory cortex (SI) and motor cortex during voluntary movement in the monkey, J Neurophysiol. 1997, 77: 2446-2465

Cheney PD, Mewes K, Widener GL. Effects on wrist and digit muscle activity from microstimuli applied at the sites of rubromotoneuronal (RM) cells in primates. J Neurophysiol, 1991, 66(6): 1978-1992

Gonzalez NC, Pauley J, Widener,G, Sullivan LP, and Clancy RL. Regulation of the acid-base balance during prolonged hypoxia: effects of respiratory and non-respiratory acidosis. In "Oxygen Transfer from Atmosphere to Tissues", Ed. NC Gonzalez and M R. Fedde. Plenum Press, New York, 1988, pp. 301-312

Widener G, Sullivan LP, Clancy RL, and Gonzalez NC. Renal compensation of hypercapnia in prolonged hypoxia. Resp Physiol. 1986, 65: 341-350

Cohen ET, Potter K, Bennett SE, Brandfass KG, Allen DD, Widener GL, Yorke AM. Selecting Rehabilitation Outcome Measures: Applying the Findings of the American Physical Therapy Association MS Edge Task Force. IJMSC. 2014:76

 Horn K, Gibson-Horn C, Allen DD, Widener GL. Balance-Based Torso-Weighting Results in Fall Reduction during Sensory Organization Test for People with Multiple Sclerosis. IJMSC. 2014:76

Hartman HW, Widener GL. The Measurement of Functional Outcome in a 13 year-old Female with Iliotibial Band Tightness using the Functional Self Assessment Lower Extremity (FSALE): a Case Report. CPTA, Pasadena, CA Sep, 2013

Potter K, Allen DD, Bennett SE, Brandass K, Cohen E, Widener GL, Yorke AM. Report and Recommendation from the Neurology Section Taskforce on Outcome Measures for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, APTA Combined Sections Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 9, 2012

Topp K, Widener GL, Brown DA, Allen DD. Behavioral Correlates of Neurological Dysfunction and Recovery: Assessments for Translational Research. Winter Conference on Brain Research. Breckenridge, CO, January 2010.

Gibson-Horn C, Widener GL. Balance-Based Torso-weighting Improves Balance and Mobility in MS. CMSC Annual Meeting, Scotsdale AZ, May 2006

Gibson-Horn C and Widener GL. The Use of Weighted Vests to Enhance Postural Stability, Gait, and Functional Abilities in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis. CPTA Annual Conference, Sacramento, CA, Oct. 2003

Widener GL. Measurement Toolboxes for Gait and Balance in Multiple Sclerosis. Invited speaker; 3rd International Symposium on Gait and Balance in Multiple Sclerosis: Selecting the Right Measures, St. Louis, MO  Oct 18-19, 2013

Widener GL. Update on Multiple Sclerosis: Neurorehabilitation. Invited Speaker at the California Neurology Conference. San Francisco, CA. May 4, 2013

Widener GL, Gibson-Horn C, Gorgos AM, Allen DD. People with Multiple Sclerosis Show Improved Gait Parameters with Balance-Based Torso Weighting. Health Science Symposium, Samuel Merritt University, May 11, 2012.

Allen DD, Widener GL. Selecting Outcome Measures for People with Multiple Sclerosis. UCSF/SFSU Graduate Program in Physical Therapy Spring Symposium May 5, 2012, San Francisco, CA.

Sensorimotor Integration. Webinar presented to NeuroResidency students across the country. September 26, 2011. Co-presented with Diane D. Allen

Industry Grant AlterG. “Effects of Alter-G Treadmill Training on Balance, Mobility and Strength in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis” (5.9K)

NIH AREA Award “Movement Ability Changes with Balance-Based Torso-Weighting in Multiple Sclerosis”. (413K), 9/15/2010-8-31-2013 PI

Academic Vice President Faculty Incentive Award, SMU “BBTW Effects in Healthy People”, (10K), 1/2010 PI

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Pilot Grant, "Balance-Based Torso Weighting: A New Intervention for Improving Balance and Mobility", (44K), 11/2004 PI

Faculty Research Grant – Samuel Merritt College “Long-Term Effects of a Weighted Vest for People with Multiple Sclerosis”, ($2700), 3/2003 PI

California Physical Therapy Fund Grant “Use of a Weighted Vest to Improve Gait, Balance and Function in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis” ($2300.00), 12/2002 PI

Faculty Research Grant “Use of a Weighted Vest to Improve Gait, Balance and Function in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis” ($1750.00), Samuel Merritt College 2001 PI

Faculty Research Grant “Validation of the Senior Safety Questionnaire” ($1400.00), Samuel Merritt College, 1994 PI

Member, Clinical Advisory Committee, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Northern California Chapter, 1999 – present

Member, American Physical Therapy Association, 1981 - 1985, 1990 - present APTA Sections: Research, Neurology, Education, Geriatrics. and Acute Care

Member, Research SIG, California Chapter APTA, Sept. 1993 - present

Member, California Chapter, APTA, Golden Gate District, 1991 - present



Member for
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