Mentor: Thomas Bulea, Ph.D. | thomas.bulea@nih.gov
Lab: Neurorobotics Research Group, Neurorehabilitation & Biomechanics Research Section, Rehabilitation Medicine Department

Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Exoskeleton-Mediated Gait Training in Children

The primary focus of the Neurorobotics Research Group is to develop innovative device-based approaches to treat movement disorders. These approaches are deployed clinically for evaluation within our motion analysis laboratory where their effects on movement are studied using motion capture, EMG and functional neuroimaging (EEG / fNIRS) methods. 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 clinical testing and biomechanical evaluation of our novel robotic exoskeleton in research participants within our clinical gait lab. 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, knee angle, and/or muscle activity (EMG) during walking. 
  3. Synthesize findings to assist in developing new potential ways to control the exoskeleton in the future. 

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 and/or design of graphical user interfaces for exoskeleton communication, data transfer, and control (Python). 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 part of the NIH Clinical Center, which is the world’s largest research hospital located on the NIH campus. 

 

Intern Name: Elizabeth Barski
Institution: University of Maryland, College Park
Project Title: Effects of Exoskeleton-Provided Knee Torque on Gait Biomechanics in Children and Young Adults: A multi-visit study