Sheng Li, MD, PhD is Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School. Dr Li received his medical degree from Beijing Medical University, Beijing, China. He obtained his PhD degree in Kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University, and subsequently completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in Neurorehabilitation at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago with a focus on spasticity management and stroke rehabilitation. He was an Assistant Professor in the school of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana from 2004 to 2008. Dr. Li joined the McGovern Medical School PMR department as an Associate Professor in July 2013 after he completed his PMR residency training on a Clinical Investigator Pathway.

Dr Li’s primary clinical focus is spasticity management and neurorehabilitation after neurological impairments, mainly stroke and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Li is the Director of Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory at TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center. His main research focus is sensory and motor recovery after neurological impairments, including pathophysiology and management of spasticity, motor control and motor recovery after stroke, and neuropathic pain. He has invented a technique – breathing-controlled electrical stimulation (BreEStim, as a non-pharmacological intervention for management of spasticity and neuropathic pain. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles on these topics. His research has been continuously supported by federal grants (NIDILRR, NIH, including an NIH R01 grant), foundation grants (Mission Connect, a program of TIRR Foundation) and industrial research grants. Dr. Li have served as a regular member of the Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation (MFSR) study section at the NIH (2011-2015). Dr. Li is currently an Associate Editor with Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and a guest Editor with Frontiers in Neurology and Neural Plasticity. Dr. Li is the 2017 recipient of prestigious Early Career Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP).

Dr Li is a member of Association of Academic Physiatrists, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Society for Neuroscience


Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Clinical Investigator Pathway, Baylor/UT-Houston PM&R Alliance Program, Houston, TX, 2009 - 2013
Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 1999 - 2002
Medical Degree
Clinical Medicine, Beijing Medical University, Beijing, China, 1987 - 1993

Areas of Interests

Clinical Interests

  • Spasticity management
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation
  • Post-traumatic headache

Research Interests

  • Pathophysiology and management of spasticity
  • Non-pharmacological intervention for neuropathic pain management
  • Voluntary breathing-controlled electrical stimulation (BreEStim) and its clinical applications
  • Neural plasticity and modulation via non-invasive stimulations (TMS, tDCS, electrical stimulation)

Research Information

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Publication Information

Sheng Li (2017) Spasticity, motor recovery and neural plasticity after stroke. Frontiers in Neurology8:120. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00120 April 2017

Shengai Li, Matthew Davis, Joel Frontera, Sheng Li (2016) A novel non-pharmacological intervention – Breathing-controlled electrical stimulation (BreEStim) for neuropathic pain management after spinal cord injury – a preliminary study. Journal of Pain Research 2016, 9:933-940, Nov 3, 2016.

Yen-Ting Chen, Shengai Li, Ping Zhou, Sheng Li (2016) Different effects of conditioning startling acoustic stimuli (SAS) on TMS-induced responses at rest and during sustained voluntary contraction. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10, 396, 2016. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00396

Sheng Li, Gerard E. Francisco (2015) New insights into the pathophysiology of post-stroke spasticity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 9:192. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00192

Sheng Li (2013) Breathing-controlled electrical stimulation (BreEStim) for management of neuropathic pain and spasticity. Journal of Visualized Experiments (71), e50077. URL: