Lumy Sawaki, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Cardinal Hill Endowed Research Scholar in Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Faculty Associate
Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC), University of Kentucky

Joint appointment Associate Professor
Department of Neurology, University of Kentucky

Research Interests

Lumy Sawaki joined the University of Kentucky Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in April 2008 as the appointed Cardinal Hill Endowed Scholar in Stroke and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation.

She received her M.D. in 1991 from the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, where she also completed her medical residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She received her Ph.D. in clinical neurophysiology in 1999 from Kobe University in Japan. That same year, Dr. Sawaki came to the United States to complete a three-and-a-half-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with Dr. Leonardo Cohen, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). In 2002, she became a faculty member in the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

She received a prestigious graduate research scholarship from the Ministry of Education of Japan in 1995 and was awarded the Presidential Award from the American Society of Neurorehabilitation in 2000. She went on to receive the Research Excellence Award from Wake Forest University in 2007.

Sawaki has a research foundation that focuses on stroke and spinal cord rehabilitation. She has received related grant awards from the American Heart Association, the Dana Foundation, and the NIH. She has a special interest in neuroplasticity and in the development of novel rehabilitative strategies to enhance functional motor recovery after stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injury. Using techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, magnetoencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, her goal is to explore and refine pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to be applied in the clinical setting.

Dr. Sawaki is married to Ted, a musician, with whom she enjoys having joyful and inspiring discussions about the amazing affinity of the brain for learning to play musical instruments and for relearning motor skills after neurological injuries. She is also an active supporter of animal rights and has one chocolate Labrador and two calico twin cats.

Representative Publications

Sawaki L, Okita T, Fujiwara M and Mizuno K (1999) Specific and non-specific effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on simple and go/no-go reaction time. Exp Brain Res.127:402-408

Sawaki L, Okita T, Fujiwara M and Mizuno K (1999) Effects of subthreshold transcranial magnetic on choice reaction time and correlation with motor cortical activation. Kobe Journal of Medical Science. 45:165-179

Buetefisch C, Davis B, Classen J, Wise S, Sawaki L, Kopylev L and Cohen LG (2000) Mechanisms of use-dependent plasticity in human motor cortex  Proc Nat Acad Sci  97:3661-5.

Sawaki L, Boroojerdi B, Kaelin-Lang A, Kopylev L, Butefisch C, Burstein A, Davis B and Cohen LG (2002) Cholinergic influences on use-dependent plasticity. J Neurophysiol. Jan;87(1):166-71

Kaelin-Lang A, Luft AR, Sawaki L, Burstein AH, Sohn YH, Cohen LG. Modulation of human corticomotor excitability by somatosensory input J Physiol. 2002 Apr 15;540(Pt 2):623-33.3

Butefisch C, Sawaki L, Davis B, Waldvogel, Classen J, Kopylev and Cohen LG. Modulation of use-dependent plasticity by D-amphetamine. Ann Neurol. 2002 Jan;51(1):59-68

Donchin O, Sawaki L, Madupu G, Cohen LG, Shadmehr R Mechanisms influencing acquisition and recall of motor memories. J Neurophysiol 2002 Oct;88(4):2114-23

L. Sawaki, L.G. Cohen, J. Classen, B.C. Davis, and C.M. Butefisch. Enhancement of use-dependent plasticity by d-amphetamine Neurology 2002; 59:1262

H.M. Schambra, L. Sawaki, and L.G. Cohen Modulation of Excitability of Human Motor Cortex (M1) by 1 HzTranscranial Magnetic Stimulation of the Contralateral M1. Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Jan;114(1):130-3

L. Sawaki, K. J. Werhahn, R. Barco, L. Kopylev, and L.G. Cohen. Effect of an a1-adrenergic blocker on plasticity elicited by motor training. Exp Brain Res. 2003 Feb;148(4):504-8

L Sawaki, Z Yaseen, L Kopylev, and L. G. Cohen. Age-dependent changes in the ability to encode a novel elementary motor. Ann Neurol. 2003 Apr;53(4):521-4

H.M. Schambra, L. Sawaki, and L.G. Cohen. Modulation of Excitability of Human Motor Cortex (M1) by 1 Hz Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of the Contralateral M1. Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Jan;114(1):130-3

K Morgen, N Kadom, L Sawaki, A Tessitore, J Ohayon, H McFarland, J Frank, R Martin, LG Cohen. Kinematic specificity of cortical reorganization associated with motor training. Neuroimage 2004 Mar, 21(3):1182-7

Morgen K, Kadom N, Sawaki L, Tessitore A, Ohayon J, McFarland H, Frank J, Martin R, Cohen LG.  Training-dependent plasticity in patients with multiple sclerosisBrain. 2004 Nov;127(Pt 11):2506-17.

Lumy Sawaki Use-dependent Plasticity Of The Human Motor Cortex In Health And Disease. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology 2005 Jan (24): 36-39.

Kaelin-Lang A, Sawaki L, Cohen LG. Role of voluntary drive in encoding an elementary motor memory. J Neurophysiol. 2005 Feb;93(2):1099-103.

Lumy Sawaki, Carolyn W-H. Wu, Alain Kaelin-Lang, and Leonardo G Cohen. Effects of somatosensory stimulation on use-dependent in chronic stroke. Stroke. 2006 Jan;37(1):246-7.

Donald J Foster, David C. Good, Allison Fowlkes, and Lumy Sawaki. Atomoxetine enhances a short-term model of plasticity in humans. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Feb;87(2):216-21

Constraint-induced Movement Therapy results in increased motor map area in subjects 3-9 months after stroke. Lumy Sawaki; Andrew J. Butler, Xiaoyan Leng, Peter A. Wassenaar, Yousef M. Mohammad, Sarah Blanton, K. Sathian, Deborah S. Nichols-Larsen, Steven L. Wolf, David C. Good, and George F. Wittenberg. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2008 Sep/Oct;22(5):505-513

Starr CJ; Sawaki L; Wittenberg GF; Burdette JH; Oshiro Y; Quevedo AS; and Coghill RC. Roles of Insular Cortex in the Modulation of Pain: Insights from Brain Lesions. Journal of Neuroscience 2009 Mar 4;29(9):2684-94.

Starr CJ; Sawaki L; Wittenberg GF; Burdette JH; Oshiro Y; Quevedo AS; McHaffie JG; and Coghill RC. Roles of Putamen in the Pain Experience: Insights from Functional and Structural Connectivity and Brain Lesions (in press).

Oscillatory MEG Motor Activity Reflects Therapy-Related Plasticity in Stroke Patients. Tony W. Wilson, Anne Fleischer, Darlene Archer, Satoru Hayasaka and Lumy Sawaki. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2010 Oct 13.

The EXCITE Stroke Trial: Comparing Early and Delayed Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy. Steven L. Wolf, Paul A. Thompson, Carolee J. Winstein, J. Phillip Miller, Sarah R. Blanton, Deborah S. Nichols-Larsen, David M. Morris, Gitendra Uswatte, Edward Taub, Kathye E. Light, Lumy Sawaki. Stroke published online Sep 2, 2010.

Invited editorial. Lumy Sawaki  Emerging Approaches in Rehabilitation after Brain Injury. Neurorehabilitation. March 2008


Lumy Sawaki and David Good. Chapter: Stroke Rehabilitation. Book: Cerebrovascular Disorders by James Toole. GEOTAR, Russia, Moscow. 2007 Sep (289-307)

David Good and Lumy Sawaki. Chapter: Stroke Rehabilitation. Book: Toole’s cerebrovascular disorders. – 6th ed. Cambridge University Press 2010.


Lumy Sawaki

Contact Information

Phone: (859) 323-6226
Fax: (859) 257-9372