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Victoria A. Moerchen, PT, PhD

Associate Professor


Fellowship Infant Mental Health University of Wisconsin-Madison 2013
Postdoctoral Scholar Motor Development University of Michigan 2003
Ph D Motor Behavior and Control University of Wisconsin-Madison 2002
MS Therapeutic Sciences University of Wisconsin-Madison 1994
BS Physical Therapy Northwestern University Medical School 1987
BA Biopsychology 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

Victoria 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 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 bifida, Down syndrome and autism.

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, Moerchen utilizes an infant treadmill paradigm to examine basic science and clinical questions.

Current research collaborators include Rachel Schiffman (Nursing, UWM) and Paula Rhyner (Communications Sciences and Disorders, UWM).

Selected Publications

Moerchen, V. A., Lundeen, H. M., & Dole, R. L. (In Press). Educational Research Priorities for Pediatric Physical Therapy: A Consensus Study. Pediatric Physical Therapy.
Wise, D., Dominquez, J., Kapasi, Z., Williams-York, B., Moerchen, V. A., Brooks, S., & Ross, L. (2017). Defining under-represented minorities and promoting holistic review admissions strategies in physical therapy education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 31(4), 8-13.
Polfuss, M., Simpson, P., Stolzman, S., Moerchen, V. A., Hovis, S., Zhang, L., Miranda, H., & Sawin, K. (2016, May). The measurement of body composition in children with spina bifida: Feasibility and preliminary findings. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 9(2), 143-153.
Schreiber, J., Moerchen, V. A., Rapport, M. J., Martin, K., Furze, J., Lundeen, H., & Pelletier, E. (2015). Experiential learning with children: An essential component of professional physical therapy education. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 27(4), 356-367.
Rapport, M. J., Furze, J., Martin, K., Schreiber, J., Dannemiller, L. A., Dibiasio, P., & Moerchen, V. A. (2014). Essential competencies in entry-level pediatric physical therapy education. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 26(1), 7-18.
Massery, M., Hagins, M., Stafford, R., Moerchen, V. A., & Hodges, P. W. (2013). Effect of airway control by glottal structures on postural stability. Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(4), 483-490.
Moerchen, V. A., & 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.
Saeed, T. E., & Moerchen, V. A. (2013). Measuring hope among parents of children with autism and Down syndrome. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 25(1), 121.
Sansom, J. K., Teulier, C., Smith, B. A., Muraszko, K., Moerchen, V. A., & Ulrich, B. D. (2013). Muscle activation patterns in infants with myelomeningocele stepping on a treadmill. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 25(3), 278-289.
Moerchen, V. A., Perez, Z., Riordan, M. J., & Kolar, K. L. (2013). When might directional variability in treadmill stepping with infants be introduced? Pediatric Physical Therapy, 25(1), 116.
Rahlin, M., & Moerchen, V. A. (2012). Infants and children with cardiovascular and pulmonary dysfunction. Frownfelter, D., & Dean, E. (Eds.). 5th ed.
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.
Moerchen, V. A., Habibi, M., Lynette, K. A., Konrad, J. D., & Hoefakker, H. L. (2011). Treadmill training: Outcomes for a toddler with Spina Bifida. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 23(1), 53-61.
Pentall, A., Teulier, C., Smith, B., Moerchen, V. A., & Ulrich, B. (2011). Optimization of the treadmill context to elicit steps in infants born with myelomeningocele. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 23(1), 42-52.
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 congenital heart defect: a pilot examination. Cardiology in the Young, 1-8.


Allen, C., Fangman, M., Holmes, L., Dietrich, A., Kavanaugh, M., Miller, T., Moerchen, V., & (May 2019). An Interprofessional Educational Experience in a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program: A Mixed Methods Analysis. 2019 UWM Health Research Symposium, Milwaukee, WI.
Schiffman, R., & Moerchen, V. A. (May 2018). Infant Motor Performance Enhanced by Responsive Parent-Child Interaction. 16th World Congress, Rome, Italy.
Moerchen, V. A., & Lundeen, H. M. (February 2018). Pediatric PT Educational Research: Developing a Road map. Dianne Cherry Lectureship, New Orleans, LA.
Moerchen, V. A., Perez, Z. A., & Rachel (February 2018). Infant Treadmill Stepping: Parents are more than just along for the ride. Combined Sections Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
Handler, A., San Miguel, C., Moerchen, V. A., Bozlak, C., Moerchen, V., Barnekow, K., Sappenfield, O., & Greenleaf, R. (February 2018). The Title V MCH Internship Program: An Innovative Approach to MCH Student Involvement in Title V Transformation Efforts. Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Annual Conference, Arlington, VA.
Schiffman, R., & Moerchen, V. A. (2017). Parent-Child Interaction as the Family Foundation for Supporting Early Motor Development. 13th International Family Nursing Conference, Pamplona, Spain.
Moerchen, V. A., & Schiffman, R. (2016). Parent-child interaction as foundation for early motor development. World Association for Infant Mental Health World Congress, Prague, Czech Republic.
Dietrich, M., Dietrich, A., & Moerchen, V. A. (2015). Transformative learning: Cognitive-affective outcomes of a practicum embedded in a pediatrics course. American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, Indianapolis, IN.
Moerchen, V. A., & Lundeen, H. (November 2015). Experiential learning in pediatric education: Innovative strategies for including children with and without movement challenges. Section on Pediatrics Annual Conference (SoPAC), Pittsburgh, PA.
Moerchen, V. A., Schiffman, R., & Tuchman-Ginsberg, L. (November 2015). Parent-child interaction as an early intervention model for capacity building in children and families. Section on Pediatrics Annual Conference (SoPAC), Pittsburgh, PA.
Dietrich, A., Truebenbach, C., Alt, C., & Moerchen, V. A. (October 2015). Comprehensive assessment for clinical readiness, Part I: A model for using CPI from start to finish in DPT education. American Physical Therapy Association, Educational Leadership Conference (ELC), Baltimore, MD.
Dietrich, A., Truebenbach, C., Alt, C., & Moerchen, V. A. (October 2015). Comprehensive assessment for clinical readiness, Part II: Outcomes from using the CPI from start to finish in DPT education. American Physical Therapy Association, Educational Leadership Conference (ELC), Baltimore, MD.
Polfuss, M., Simpson, P., Stolzman, S., Moerchen, V. A., Hovis, S., Zhang, L., Miranda, H., & Sawin, K. (April 2015). Measuring Body Composition in Children with Spina Bifida. Midwest Nurses Research Society 2015 Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
Dietrich, A., Truebenbach, C., Alt, C., & Moerchen, V. A. (February 2015). Using the CPI to anchor embedded comprehensive assessment of DPT students. American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, Indianapolis, IN.
Moerchen, V. A., Lynett, K., & Rhyner, P. M. (February 2015). Embodied development: Infant communication during treadmill stepping. Combined Sections Meeting, American Physical Therapy Association, Indianapolis, IN.

Recent Funded Grants

The UW-Milwaukee Pipeline Training Initiative
$814,984, 06/2016 – 05/2021
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: Moerchen

Targeting parent-child interaction to promote the healthy development of infants in the motor domain
$24,951.00, Funding period: 7-2014 thru 12-2015 (extended to 6-2016).
College of Health Sciences, Stimulus Program to Accelerate Research Clusters (SPARC Award).
Principal Investigator: V. Moerchen, PT, PhD
Co-PI: Rachel Schiffman, PhD, RN
Co-Investigators: K. Barnekow, PhD, OTR; P. Rhyner, PhD, CCP-SLP

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

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

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

Honors & Awards

Stanford Award (2018) Journal of Physical Therapy Education.
UWM CHS Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service (2018, May 11) UWM College of Health Sciences.
Dianne Cherry Educator’s Lectureship (2017) Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.
Conference Abstract and Poster Award, “Exertion during infant treadmill stepping.” Moerchen, VA and Engel, JE (2016) Section on Pediatrics, American Physical Therapy Association.
Clinical Research Scholar (2011) Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin, NIH-K30 Program.
Fellow (2011) Summer Research Training Institute on Single-Case Intervention Research Design and Analysis, Institute on Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research.
Award for Outstanding Abstract and Presentation “Enhancing the treadmill context: Implications for practice with infants with myelomeningocele.” (2011, June) International Organisation of Physical Therapists in Paediatrics World Confederation of Physical Therapy, World Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Mentor of the Year, 2009 (2010, April) Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association.
Invited Participant at the Second Annual Pediatric Research Summit (2007) APTA and NIH.
NIH Junior Faculty Scholarship (2005, July) National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Virginia Horne Henry Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellow (2002) Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Marie L. Carns Fellowship (1997) Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Genevieve Brown Write Graduate Scholarship (1996) Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gordon Diewart Scholarship (1995) Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Maja Schade (1995) Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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, 2009-2015.
  • Invited comment on the NIH, NICHD Research Plan for Down syndrome, 2007.