The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology is a smaller but internationally respected unit that combines the advantages of a small, close-knit school community with the resources of a much larger university. While the unit has its own Office of Student Services, Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, and Center for Global Opportunities, as well as a staff that supports a variety of work groups, it also enjoys close collaborative relationships with Medicine, Business, Engineering, Education, Public Health, and LS&A. The School of Kinesiology also has a long and successful history of funded research in mobility and health.
Kinesiology is the study of human movement from a variety of disciplines – including biochemistry, psychology, neurophysiology, sociology, developmental motor control, and the mechanics of motion. Kinesiologists study the teaching as well as the learning of motor skills, which can be examined from birth to old age, and in injured or diseased conditions. A critical and growing area of research concerns the need for a better quantitative understanding of mechanical energy transfers between humans and robotic devices, and one important finding in the fledgling field of rehabilitation robotics is that patients reduce their effort and attention when robotic devices provide too much assistance. Therefore, a critical line exists between assisting patients and dominating their movements.
Rehabilitation Robotics Group faculty members – whose strong research backgrounds in the dynamics of human movement and solid biomechanics skills enable quantification of mechanical device-user interactions – are tackling these issues directly. They also are teaching and mentoring students and research assistants in pursuit of such studies, and that participation and involvement facilitates collaborative research projects within the Rehabilitation Robotics Group and among other faculty interested in the field of rehabilitation robotics.