Clinical Professors

Clinical Professors, Michelle L. Woodbury, PhD, OTR/L Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Michelle L. Woodbury, Ph.D., O.T.R./L

Associate Professor
Department of Health Science and Research, Division of Occupational Therapy
College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina

Contact: 843-792-1671 or

Who is Dr. Woodbury?

Dr. Woodbury is an occupational therapist who practiced as a neurorehabilitation specialist for 12+ years.  She obtained a doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Florida with an emphasis on recovery of functional arm use after stroke. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she is the Rehabilitation Director of the Stroke Recovery Research Center, Director of the Upper Extremity Recovery Laboratory, and stroke rehabilitation instructor in the Masters of Occupational Therapy program. Dr. Woodbury was awarded MUSC’s Developing Teacher Award in 2002, and in 2014 received the MUSC Teaching Excellence Award in the Educator-Mentor category.  Dr. Woodbury co-designed Duck Duck Punch, a stroke rehabilitation game, with Clemson Professor Dr. Larry Hodges, and his Clemson School of Computing students, Austen Hayes and Patrick Dukes. The game is designed to be a therapy-like experience; individuals with strokes move their weaker arm to control an avatar arm to “punch” virtual ducks. The game’s custom design assures that patients’ movements are “therapist approved” for stroke recovery. Microsoft recognized the game’s innovation when they awarded Duck Duck Punch 2nd place worldwide in the prestigious 2012 international Imagine Cup Kinect software competition.  This MUSC-Clemson team licensed the Duck Duck Punch technology, formed a company (Recovr) and established a productive research partnership with grant funding, publications and numerous scientific presentations. Most recently they were awarded an NIH Small Business Innovation Direct-to-Phase II research grant to investigate the game’s functional viability and bring it to commercialization.

For more information, see her Curriculum Vitae.

How Dr. Woodbury’s research is transforming health care

Dr. Woodbury’s extensive clinical experience motivates her research in 2 ways:

First, she is frustrated that patients with arm paresis have increasingly limited rehabilitation opportunities. Dr. Woodbury passionately believes that the majority of survivors do not receive the proper amount of arm movement practice because rehabilitation is too expensive and/or they live in medically underserved areas. Without enough movement practice, the survivor does not recover arm function to his/her full potential, which means that survivors have reduced independence with daily activities, cannot return to work, and will require long-term caregiver assistance. She often wondered if they could develop some kind of technology-assisted therapy tool to afford patients opportunity to safely practice arm movements on their own without direct therapist supervision. Dr. Woodbury firmly believes that Duck Duck Punch meets this pressing need.

Second, rehabilitation professional organizations emphasize patient evaluation using standardized assessment tools. However, standardized assessments are rarely used by therapists because assessment scores often fail to inform the design of day-to-day therapy sessions. Dr. Woodbury strongly believes that this is a barrier to progress in rehabilitation because implementation of the most scientifically up-to-date therapies requires standardized evaluations to identify appropriate patients and document treatment response. She has endeavored to address this significant issue by renovating assessment tools using modern item response theory measurement models. They have developed an innovative method that links the assessment scores directly to stroke rehabilitation programs tailored to the unique motor skill level of each individual patient.

News and media related to Dr. Woodbury’s research

Key Health Research Interest Areas

Stroke, Rehabilitation, Clinical Trials, Occupational Therapy, Virtual Reality, Item Response Theory