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Madeleine Hackney, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine

Department of Medicine





Madeleine Hackney holds a BFA in Dance from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, and a Ph.D. in Movement Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Her doctoral work characterized the effects of gender, attention, disease and unfamiliar skills on locomotion by examining backward and dual task gait to gain insight into which tasks need the most rehabilitative emphasis. Then, she proceeded with design and analysis of challenging exercise programs: traditional exercise, Tai Chi and partnered dance & tango classes, designed to improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson Disease, older adults and those with serious mental illness. The research received media coverage in the New York Times, Scientific American, National Public Radio and in Musicophilia, by Oliver Sachs. At the Atlanta VAMC, she has continued to research the effects of adapted tango and FallProof Balance & Mobility Program for older adults with low vision.

Madeleine Hackney has been dedicated to volunteer community service and has recruited and mentored many undergraduates to volunteer as assistants in group exercise studies. She has presented her work at international meetings, such as the Movement Disorders Society, the International Society for Posture and Gait Research, the Society for Neuroscience, and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine- American Society of Neurorehabilitation Joint Educational Conference. She has been an invited speaker for Luther Colleges Black History Conference, and the Culture and Brain Health Initiative symposium at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Research Interests:

At the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Dr. Hackney aims to determine the characteristics of physical rehabilitative strategies, in terms of motor pattern and timing, dosage, duration, intensity, and overall effectiveness that will have high compliance while enhancing balance, mobility and quality of life and reducing fall risk for older adults with low vision. She is keenly interested in identifying movement programming, pedagogical methods of movement instruction, and related aspects (i.e., music accompaniment, assisting devices and tools, environment) that will optimize group physical activities for specific populations. She also investigates aspects pertaining to improved quality of life, enjoyment, satisfaction and goal-attainment as a result of rehabilitative physical activity approaches.




Holmes W, Hackney ME. Adapted Tango for Adults With Parkinson's Disease: A Qualitative Study. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. 2017 Jul;34(3):256-275. doi: 10.1123/apaq.2015-0113.

Bennett CG, Hackney ME. Effects of line dancing on physical function and perceived limitation in older adults with self-reported mobility limitations, Disability and Rehabilitation, 2018, Jun 40(11):1259-1265. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1294207.

Allen J, McKay JL, Sawers A, Hackney ME, Ting L. Increased neuromuscular consistency in gait and balance after partnered, dance-based rehabilitation in Parkinson's disease. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2017; 118(1):363-373. doi: 10.1152/jn.00813.2016. (Awarded APSselect award for distinction in scholarship from the American Physiological Society.)

Hart A, Dillard R, Perkins MM, Vaughan C, Kinlaw K, McKay JL, Waldrop-Valverde D, Hagen K, Wincek R, Hackney ME. The DREAMS Team: Creating Community Partnerships through Research Advocacy Training for Diverse Older Adults. Educational Gerontology, 2017; April, 43(9): 440-450.

Chen TL, Beer JM, Bhattacharjee T, Hackney ME, Rogers WA, Kemp CC.Older adults’ acceptance of a robot for partner dance-based exercise. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0182736.

Perkins M, Hart A, Dillard R, Wincek R, Jones D, Hackney ME. A Formative Qualitative Evaluation to Inform Implementation of a Research Participation Enhancement and Advocacy Training Program for Diverse Seniors: The DREAMS Program. Journal of Applied Gerontology,

Dillard R, Perkins M, Hart A, Li C, Wincek R, Jones D, Hackney ME. Research Advocacy Training Program Benefits Diverse Older Adults in Participation, Self-Efficacy and Attitudes towards Research. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, in press.

Abraham A, Hart A, Andrade I, Hackney ME. Dynamic Neuro-Cognitive Imagery (DNI)™ Improves Mental Imagery Ability, Disease Severity, and Motor and Cognitive Functions in People with Parkinson's Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neural Plasticity. In press.

McKay JL, Lang KC, Ting LH, Factor S, Hackney ME. A cross-sectional study of set shifting impairments and falling in individuals with and without Parkinson's disease. Gait and Posture. in press.

Abraham A, Dunsky A, Hackney ME, Dickstein R. Kinematic and Kinetic Analysis of Repeated and Static Elevé in Adolescent Female Dance Students. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 2018; 22(1): 33-43. DOI:

Click here to view publications on PubMed