Functional and Applied Biomechanics

Research Projects

Ongoing research projects:

Neuromotor Assessment and Recovery Initiative

Cerebral Palsy Coordination Protocol
This project started in Spring 2010 and evaluates lower extremity reciprocal coordination in ambulatory children with cerebral palsy (CP) across three levels of mobility and compared to children without CP.  Children with CP are randomized to one of two interventions aimed to improve coordination: a motor-assisted cycle or an elliptical trainer. Both provide assistance and resistance to reciprocal leg movements.  In the case of the elliptical, the assistance comes from the participant’s own arm movements.  Both interventions will be performed at a high cadence with resistance gradually introduced and progressed after target cadence is achieved. The implicit goal of this work is to determine whether intense reciprocal training of the lower extremities can stimulate sensorimotor pathways in CP to a sufficient degree to effect change in coordination and measurable changes in connectivity within and between the sensory and motor areas of the brain. The primary functional goal of the project is to help children with CP walk more quickly and efficiently by improving their ability to activate their leg muscles rapidly and reciprocally. This is the first clinical trial in CP using these devices in ambulatory children.

Additional Areas of Investigation

A 3D representation of a skeletal system.
  • Evaluation of an orthosis that uses electrical stimulation for foot drop in children with CP.
  • Using 3D motion capture and EMG to quantify and characterize different movement disorders such as dystonia in children and adults.
  • Detecting movement and balance problems in highly functional individuals who have sustained a brain injury using virtual reality technology.
  • Using ultrasound in patients and controls to study muscle architecture in both relaxed and contracted states.
  • Evaluating the kinematics and EMG patterns of different locomotor training devices compared to overground walking.

Virtual Functional Anatomy

The Virtual Functional Anatomy project is designed to fill the important knowledge gap that exists regarding the relationship between impaired joint function and the movement limitations associated with performing activities of daily living. Our current focus is to develop and ultimately validate a combined set of tools that will enable the accurate and precise measurement, analysis and visualization of three-dimensional (3D) static and dynamic musculoskeletal anatomy using MRI imagery.

Rehabilitation Robotics Initiative

The Rehabilitation Robotics Initiative aims at developing and/or evaluating robotics technology for enhancement in rehabilitation medicine by understanding human movement science and underlying mechanisms of impairment.  Our current focus is to develop robotic devices and control methods that allow accurate measurement for diagnosis and convenient and effective treatment for patients with neurological disorders.

Tele-robotic Rehabilitation System
The tele-robotic system enables remote assessment and therapy. The clinician holds and moves a robotic mannequin device and the movement information is sent via the internet to a remote stretching device where the patient’s limb is securely strapped to. In this way, the patient’s limb undergoes identical movement as that of the mannequin limb. Meanwhile, the resisting torque from the patient’s limb is measured and recreated at the robotic mannequin so that the clinician can feel the resistance from the patient’s limb.

Visual diagram of remote assessment. Includes process of the Haptic Mannequin Device in the Hospital and the Wearable Stretching Device in the Patient's Home. The two are conncected by an Internet Connection, Audio Visual Data and Postition/Torque Data.

Active Speed Adaptation of Treadmill
Body weight supported treadmill training with virtual reality system is used for virtual navigation so that a person with gait deficit can learn normal walking skills. To implement the realistic virtual navigation, active control of a treadmill speed allows a person to change walking speed voluntarily by adjusting treadmill speed to the person’s intention.

Person walking on a treadmill in the lab.

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This page last updated on 09/20/2017

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