Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

2018 BESIP Project

Functional and Applied Biomechanics Section, Rehabilitation Medicine Department
Mentor Name: 
Thomas Bulea, Ph.D. Project #1
Mentor Email: 
Mentor Telephone: 
(301) 451-7544

Laboratory and Project Description

Evaluation of a pediatric exoskeleton for gait training in children with movement disorders

The primary focus of the Functional & Applied Biomechanics section is to investigate mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal motor control and to design devices and interventions to improve motor function in individuals with physical disabilities. Our laboratory has a state-of-the-science motion capture system to precisely quantify joint motion during motor tasks. As part of this mission, our section has been developing robotic exoskeletons for treatment of gait disorders in children with cerebral palsy (CP), spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and incomplete spinal cord injury.
For this project, the student will assist in testing of the second generation of our custom exoskeleton. The project will require the student to:

  1. Participate in collection of motion capture and electromyography (EMG) in our clinical laboratory for validation of the exoskeleton performance in children with gait impairments.
  2. Assist in data analysis to assess performance of the robotic exoskeleton and its effect on biomechanical outcome measures, such as gait speed or knee angle during walking.
  3. Provide technical contributions to tuning the feedback control system, and possibly to the mechanical design of the exoskeleton, based on results from data analysis.

Throughout this project, the student will receive mentorship and gain experience with motion capture, EMG, signal processing, and data analysis techniques (Matlab). The student may also gain experience in real time control of robotics, including microprocessor (Arduino) based programming. The student will also benefit from being in an active, interdisciplinary laboratory setting studying a wide range of movement pathologies and associated interventions, including novel treatment paradigms such as virtual reality, rehabilitation robotics, exoskeletons, and mobile neuroimaging (EEG/fNIRS). Our laboratory is located within the NIH Clinical Center, which is the world’s largest research hospital located in the middle of the NIH campus.