Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

2017 BESIP Project

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

Laboratory and Project Description

Evaluating brain activity during functional tasks using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques in healthy individuals and individuals with brain or peripheral injuries
The primary focus of our research is to investigate mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal motor control and to design devices and/or interventions to improve motor function in children and adults with physical disabilities as a result of brain injuries. Our previous work has focused on the assessment and treatment of the peripheral consequences of brain injuries such as abnormal movement or muscle activation patterns. Our laboratory has a state-of-the-science motion capture system that precisely quantifies joint motion during walking or any motor task. This system can be integrated with surface electromyography that provides information on which muscles are active and when. The development and refinement of technologies that can image the brain and record brain activity during functional tasks is a major advance in the fields of neurology and neuroscience. These technologies could provide new insights into mechanisms underlying movement disorders in children and adults with motor disorders. We utilize two non-invasive methods of assessing cortical activation patterns, electroencephalography (EEG) and Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), to record and display data in real time which allows for their potential use as a biofeedback device or brain-machine interface (BMI) for motor training. The goal of this project is to pilot the use of portable brain imaging techniques in our lab during a range of functional movements from a simple single joint motion to a whole body motor task such as walking on a treadmill.
This project will enable the student to:
  1. Learn the basics of 3D motion analysis with strong mentoring and assistance from a highly qualified group of scientists/engineers.
  2. Help to refine and implement processing streams for EEG and fNIRS data collected in concert with motion capture date. 
  3. Help collect brain imaging data (EEG or fNIRS) in our laboratory while subjects perform everyday functional tasks.
The student will have the added advantage of being in an active laboratory that is exploring different types of movement pathologies, utilizing novel motion and balance assessments including virtual reality applications and muscle and joint imaging techniques, and conducting robotic development and testing for rehabilitation applications. We are located within the Clinical Center which is the world’s largest research hospital in the middle of the NIH campus.