Rehabilitation Engineering and Electromechanical Design Lab
Rehabilitation and Assistive Methods
The most common disability in the United States is mobility disability and it affects about 1 in 7 adults. The types of walking disabilities include loss of limbs, stroke, cerebral palsy, etc. Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the world. It can prevent patients from performing daily functional tasks and significantly decreases their quality of life.
Achieving symmetry and increasing efficiency are two common goals in gait rehabilitation. In this research, we are working on three different but synergetic approaches that could get us closer to a more efficient and symmetric gait:
Multiple Rehabilitation Techniques
People with mobility impairment such as stroke often indicate paralysis with weak muscles and require physical therapy to regain strength on the paretic side. While some of the combined rehabilitation techniques result in positive outcomes, the critical ingredients of a successful training remain unknown.
Each existing therapy generates changes in the gait patterns that are distinct from other methods. By utilizing two or more methods simultaneously, we hypothesize that doctors can customize individual gait parameters in a way that is not possible with a single therapy.
We combined Rhythmic Auditory Cueing (RAC) with Split-belt Trainings (SBT). We performed 80+ experiments with human subjects to study the interaction effect of rehabilitation techniques. SBT and RAC have shown significant correlations with symmetry changes after 15-minutes training sessions. This novel combination of therapies has not been tested anywhere else.
Assistive Devices: Kinetic Crutch Tips
A walking crutch is a type of gait assistive device that transfers weight bearing from the lower limbs to the upper body to relieve stresses on the lower body while also promoting stability. It is often used for people who cannot use their legs to support their weight for reasons ranging from short-term injuries (less than 6 months) to lifelong chronic disabilities.
This research focuses on the difference between the Kinetic Crutch Tip (KCT) and a Standard Rubber Tip. Conventional crutch tips have a standard point or constant radius tip. This type of crutch tip cannot assist or resist the user during pivoting or rolling over the crutch tip, and all forward progression forces are generated by the user pushing themselves forward over the crutch.
Applying the kinetic shape concept to a crutch tip allows the user's downward force to generate a forward force that propels the user forward, thus assisting them to pivot over the crutch. The generated force can be position dependent and customizable.
Virtual Simulations: 2-Link Pendulum for Asymmetric Gait ModulationClinical rehabilitation lacks the mathematical modeling that would help explain gait behavior. This research aims to understand the effects of impaired walking better through modeling and simulation. Inverted pendulums are commonly used to describe walking patterns. Bipedal gait can be modeled using two inverted pendulums connected at the top. In this research we answer the question: "Can kinetic and kinematic symmetry be achieved in an inherently asymmetric gait?"
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant IIS-1910434.
Last modified on May 1, 2020.