Disability Studies Research Laboratory

The Disability Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University is dedicated to advancing the scientific inquiry of physical activity, physical fitness, and health in people with disabilities, especially those with Down syndrome.  Our goal is to create, disseminate, and apply scientific knowledge for enhancing meaningful physical activity participation and reducing health disparities in individuals with disabilities.  Our research is interdisciplinary, and members of our laboratory pursue research in five main areas:

  1. Measurement of physical activity and sedentary behavior
  2. Levels, patterns, and development of physical activity and sedentary behavior
  3. Determinants of physical activity and sedentary behavior
  4. Consequences of physical activity and sedentary behavior
  5. Interventions for improving physical activity and health

This website includes information on our research team, collaborators, research projects, and publications.

Laboratory Director

I am a Professor in Kinesiology at Mississippi State University.  I am also Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, Associate Editor for the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, and Past President of the North American Federation of Adapted Physical Activity.  My goal is to contribute through academic scholarship to a society where individuals experiencing disability are empowered to participate in meaningful physical activity opportunities and to achieve optimal health.   

I have a long history of research that concentrates on physical activity, physical fitness, and health in people with disabilities, particularly those with Down syndrome.  My research viewpoint is holistic—I am interested in movement patterns, physiological responses and adaptations, health behaviors, and health outcomes, as well as the design and delivery of programs for acquiring healthy behaviors.  My research is therefore inter-disciplinary.  And, although it focuses on individuals with Down syndrome, it has lessons and implications for people living with intellectual or physical impairments.

What motivates me to pursue my scholarly activities is learning.  If learning in this area of scholarship is what motivates you too and if you wanted to either collaborate with me or study under my mentoring, I would be happy to discuss possible opportunities with you.

Lab Members

Doctoral:

My name is Brantley Ballenger, and I am a Ph.D. student in the Exercise Science program at Mississippi State University. I am a Graduate Research Assistant and Coordinator of the Disability Research Laboratory. I received a B.S. in Exercise and Nutrition Science from the University of Montevallo and a M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I am a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by NSCA and Exercise Physiologist by ACSM. My research interests include measurement of physical activity and the relationship between cardiovascular health and physical activity levels in different populations, including adults with and without Down syndrome.

Masters:

My name is Maria Haider, and I am a first year Master’s Student in Exercise Science program. Originally from Pakistan, I did my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Riphah International University, Lahore. My research was centered around the correlation between the level of mobility and the manifestation of psychological problems in children with Cerebral Palsy. During my Master’s my research will be focusing on the behavioral aspects of physical activity in population with Down Syndrome.

Undergraduate:

Grant

My name is Grant Norman, and I am currently a junior enrolled in the Shackouls Honors college at Mississippi State University. I am majoring in Kinesiology with a neuromechanics concentration. Upon graduation, I plan to attend a Doctorate of Physical Therapy school. During my volunteer and academic experiences, I have developed a particular interest in neurological and genetic disorders. I am also an assistant in the Disability Studies lab where I aid in measuring physical activity levels and cardiovascular Heath in individuals with Down Syndrome and in individuals without Down Syndrome.

Sydni

My name is Sydni Carter, and I am a sophomore Kinesiology major with a concentration in Neuromechanics. I plan to attend Occupational Therapy school. I am currently assisting with a research study on the relationships between cardiovascular health and physical activity levels in individuals with and without Down syndrome.

My name is Abby Blakeney, and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Neuromechanics. I am currently a Kinesiology Ambassador with the department, Vice President of the Pre-Physical Therapy Club, and a member of the Exercise Science Honors Society. I am also assisting with research in the Disabilities Studies Laboratory measuring the relationship between cardiovascular health and physical activity levels in people with Down syndrome. My future interests include cardiac rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, and fall prevention and rehabilitation in geriatrics.

Morgan

My name is Morgan Bailey, and I am a junior at Mississippi State University pursing a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a concentration in neuromechanics. I am currently assisting in an NIH study focusing on physical activity in adults with Down syndrome. I have previously volunteered at Hope Hollows, a day camp for children with disabilities, and enjoy getting involved in the Down syndrome community for health and research.

Maggie

My name is Maggie Chamberlain, and I am a junior studying Kinesiology with a concentration in Clinical Exercise Physiology. I have been working with the Disability Studies lab since 2021 to examine physical activity levels of adults with Down Syndrome. After graduating, I hope to obtain my master’s degree in Kinesiology.

Publications

Bertapelli, F., Johnson, M., Pitetti, K.H., Smith, M.C., Carlson, B., Curtis, J.S., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2021). Association between sleep quality and physical functioning in adults with Down syndrome: A brief report. Disability and Health Journal. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2021.101173

Gosh, S., Choi, P., Brown, S.P., Motl, R.W., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2021). Levels and patterns of sedentary behavior in adults with intellectual disability. Disability and Health Journal, 14(3). doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.101059

Agiovlasitis, S., Jin, J., & Yun, J. (2021). Age-group differences in body mass index, weight, and height in adults with Down syndrome and adults with intellectual disability from the United States. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 38(1), 79-94.

Bertapelli, F. Choi, P., Allred, A.T., Pitchford, A., Guerra-Junior, G., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2020). Predicting energy expenditure from step counts using Actigraph waist-worn accelerometers in adults with Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 64(8), 602-611. doi:10.1111/jir.12755

Choi, P., Wei, E., Motl, R.W., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2020). Risk factors associated with history of falls in adults with intellectual disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 106, 103748. doi:  10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103748

Xu, J., Choi, P., Motl, R.W., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2020). Is physical activity associated with physical performance in adults with intellectual disability? Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 37(3), 289-303. doi: 10.1123/apaq.2019-0128

Allred, A.T., Choi, P., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2020). Oxygen uptake and triaxial accelerometer output in adults with Down syndrome. Disability and Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1080/09638288.20191706648

Agiovlasitis, S., Choi, P., Allred, A.T., Xu, J., & Motl, R.W. (2020). Systematic review of sedentary behavior in people with Down syndrome across the lifespan: A clarion call. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33(2), 146-159. doi: 10.1111/jar.12659

Agiovlasitis, S., Mendonca, G.V., McCubbin, J.A., & Fernhall, B. (2018). Energy expenditure during walking in adults with and without Down syndrome. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Suppl 1, 151-156. doi: 10.1111/jar.12392

Bertapelli, F., Curtis, J.S., Carlson, B., Johnson, M., Abadie, B., & Agiovlasitis, S. (2019). Step-counting accuracy of activity monitors in persons with Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 63(1), 21-30. doi: 10.1111/jir.12550