The research aim of this lab is to understand the mechanisms that underlie the change in movement in response to pain.

Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the change in movement in response to pain is a critical step in the development of new rehabilitation strategies, and improving outcomes for people living with musculoskeletal pain. With the combined skills of a strong international collaborative network, the lab aims to bring us closer to understanding the complexities of motor adaptation during pain.

Dr Tucker maintains a strong collaboration with members of the NHMRC CCRE-Spine, with the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at UQ. 

The lab has four main research streams:

STREAM 1: No two repetitions of a movement are the same. Variation in movement is critical for healthy function. We aim to determine if optimal movement variability is linked to maintenance and recovery from pain. Projects within this stream consider motor adaptations with pain in healthy participants, using novel acute and persistent pain models, and in clinical pain populations. We work together with researchers at UQ, VU University, The Netherlands, and Aalborg University, Denmark on projects related to this stream.

STREAM 2: Our research team has received funding to purchase a new ultrasound device that can directly measure stress within tissue. We will rigorously test the assumption that people change the way they move to purposefully modify stress within painful muscles. Projects within this stream consider motor adaptations with pain in healthy participants, using acute and persistent pain models.

STREAM 3: We aim to understand whether people with hip and knee pathologies have different muscle activation and/or movement patterns that might provide insights into potential targets for rehabilitation. This work involves collaborations with clinical researchers, and experts in rehabilitation science.

STREAM 4: Matching perception of movement ability and actual movement ability is crucial for everyday life. This research stream involves collaborators at UQ and Nantes University, France.  We will determine if there is a mismatch between perception and actual ability of motor performance during pain and injury.

My child’s muscle tone and functional performance

Atypical muscle tone is one of the most common clinical features observed in children with motor disorders with 6-8% collective prevalence. Children with atypical muscle tone may have difficulties in motor activity and/or participation. However, there has been no research to confirm gold standard assessments, or the relationship between muscle tone and functional performance in children.

Who can participate?

Ambulatory children aged 6 to 12 years with or without muscle tone issues.

What is involved?

Children will receive 3 free assessment sessions from a Physiotherapist.

  • Session 1 will include a clinical assessment of muscle tone (10 minutes)
  • Session 2 will include a ultrasound-based assessment of muscle stiffness (30 minutes)
  • Session 3 will include assessments of motor performance and participation (50 minutes) such as walking on a line or standing on one leg

All tests are non-invasive and non-harmful, as testing is conducted in a resting state or based on daily activity.

A report of your child’s performance, compared to same-age of peers, will be provided to you after the assessment day. For children, a certificate of junior researcher will be provided.

Where will the study take place?

Sessions will take place at either the University of Queensland or Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

Who are the researchers?

Members of the Children’s Motor Control Research Collaborative (CMCRC):

  •  Dr Leanne Johnston, Chair of CMCRC, Senior Lecturer
  •  Dr Kylie Tucker, Director of Motor Control and Pain Laboratory, Senior Lecturer
  •  Ms Miran Goo, Pysiotherapist and PhD candidate, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ
  • Dr Honey Heussler, Paediatrician and Director, Child Development Service, CHQ-HHS

How do I take part?

If you are interested, please contact Miran Goo ( or 0434 479 331).

Lab head

Find out more about our research environment and how to apply to do a short or long-term research project with us.