Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

2017 BESIP Project

Functional and Applied Biomechanics Section, Rehabilitation Medicine Department
Mentor Name: 
Thomas Bulea, Ph.D. Project #2
Mentor Email: 
Mentor Telephone: 
(301) 451-7544

Laboratory and Project Description

Development and Initial Testing of a Wearable Exoskeleton for Gait Training 
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 developed a robotic exoskeleton for treatment of gait disorders in children with cerebral palsy (CP).  
For this project, the student will assist in development and testing of the second generation of our custom exoskeleton. The project will require the student to: 
  1. Assist in device design and prototype fabrication, with an emphasis on creating a product that can be deployed outside the laboratory. 
  2. Assist in development of the embedded control system, which utilizes analog sensors integrated with microcontroller (Arduino) architecture.
  3. Participate in experimental design, data collection, and data analysis for validation of the exoskeleton, including collection of motion capture data in healthy adults and (possibly) in individuals with motor impairments.  
Throughout the course this project, the student will receive mentorship and gain experience with 3D modeling, rapid prototyping, embedded microcontrollers (Arduino), motion capture, signal processing, and data analysis techniques (Matlab). 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, mobile neuroimaging (EEG/fNIRS), and brain-machine interfaces. 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.