Select Research Projects

Targeted Brain and Muscle Feedback for Hand Recovery

James Ailsworth
An estimated 40-60% of stroke survivors experience chronic upper extremity impairment that affects their independence and quality of life. As a result of abnormal neural firing patterns in the central and peripheral nervous systems, stroke survivors experience difficulty initiating, performing, and terminating movements. The goal of this research is to investigate a novel therapy which will combine bio-feedback from brain (EEG) and muscle (EMG) signals to control a soft, actuated hand orthosis to promote movement recovery.


Biomechanics of Hand Dysfunction in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Miranda Ludovice 
Cerebral palsy is the most common pediatric motor disorder. The most prevalent subtype, hemiplegic cerebral
palsy (HCP), is characterized by sensorimotor dysfunction on one side of the body, especially in the hand.
Hand weakness can negatively impact educational opportunities, participation in daily activities, future job
prospects, and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the underlying physiological causes of this weakness are not well
understood. Possible contributors to muscle weakness in CP include a diminished ability to voluntarily excite
the muscles, excessive co-activation of antagonists, and altered muscle morphology. The goal of this research
is to determine the relative contributions of these impairment mechanisms to observed weakness in children
with HCP. These will be assessed using a custom jig to measure spasticity, ultrasonography,
electromyography (EMG), and functional electrical stimulation.

Portable, Soft Robotic glove for Rehabilitation (X-Glove)

Mohammad Ghassemi 

The X-Glove is an assistive device for individual finger actuation. This actuated device can be controlled with force feedback and muscle activation. Extension and flexion assistance can be applied to each finger independently.

Wireless communication allows for remote control and data storage. These capabilities form the base of on-the-go control of the device using a smart phone, integration of device to virtual reality for home therapy, and data collection for further analysis.

Cerebral Palsy Finger Individuation

James McCall 

The ability to independently move and generate force is a critical aspect of hand function. Hand function is frequently impaired in children with cerebral palsy but finger individuation in this population is understudied. The goal of this project is to characterize finger individuation in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy and typically developing children by assessing finger movement and force production and assessing the contrubution of different regions of the brain to this aspect of hand function using transcranial magnetic stimulation. Lastly, finger individuation will be trained in children with hemipleegic cererbal palsy using a pneumatically actuated glove which can assist in finger extension. The uses for this device range from whole hand tasks involving gross grasping techniques to more intricate tasks such as fine pinch involving individuation of the fingers. It is used in live occupational therapy sessions as well our virtual reality environments.

Multi-user Virtual Reality System for home-based therapy

Kelly Thielbar, Kristen Triandafilou, Sarah Kuhaneck, Nicole Spencer

The goal of this project is to create an enjoyable method of at-home hand rehabilitation to increase stroke survivors’ motivation to engage in rehab. This project will put users in a virtual reality environment to compete against each other in food fighting, ball rolling, and motion mimicking games. These games will train the brain by requiring the user to practice skilled hand movements to speed up the recovery process.

Optimization of Wearable Robotics

Quentin Sanders

In my previous work, I focused on addressing the question “How do we optimize the usage of wearable robotic technologies for hand rehabilitation after stroke?” I demonstrated that progress in answering this question can be made by considering three key areas: usership patterns of wearable hand sensing technology in real-world settings, sensory and motor control of the hand after stroke, and the mechanical design and intuitive control of wearable soft robotic technologies for the hand. Currently, I am interested in exploring the role that tactile sensation plays in motor function of the hand particularly in those who have suffered from neurological conditions such as Stroke.