Laboratories

The Rehabilitation Robotics Group is comprised of 8 laboratories, each directed by a University of Michigan faculty member affiliated with five different University-wide units. Though all the labs are separate and independent, their association as part of the Rehabilitation Robotics Group facilitates the sharing of equipment, personnel, and research results to more efficiently aid the common goals of the group.

 

Cortical Neural Prosthetics Laboratory

Directed by Cindy Chestek, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering. Professor Chestek’s research goal is to develop clinically viable systems that enable paralyzed individuals to control either prosthetic limbs or their own limbs using functional electrical stimulation and assistive exoskeletons. Current projects include work relating to dexterous finger control, fully implantable neural decoders, and chronic optogenetic systems. A recent example of work in the Cortical Neural Prosthetics Laboratory involves implanting 100 channel arrays in the motor and premotor cortex of monkeys to develop improved brain-machine interface (BMI) systems.

For more information concerning members of the Cortical Neural Prosthetics Laboratory and more specifics about its projects, visit http://www.bme.umich.edu/labs/chestek/.

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Direct Brain Interface Laboratory

Jane Huggins, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Department of Biomedical Engineering, is the Director of the Direct Brain Interface Laboratory. The lab’s current work focuses on breaking down the barriers that have slowed the development of non-invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The intent is to develop usable clinical tools for individuals with physical impairments. Barriers include signal processing challenges, appropriate BCI task selection, interactions among BCIs and various impairment-causing conditions, and issues relating to in-home use. This lab’s work is intended to prepare BCIs for in-home testing among target user populations, including those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, neuromuscular diseases, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsy.

For more information concerning the Direct Brain Interface Laboratory, including prior and current research projects and its array of past and present co-investigators and other collaborators, visit http://www.umich.edu/~umdbi/.

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Haptix Laboratory

Principal investigator Brent Gillespie, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, oversees the Haptix Laboratory. The lab’s research projects aim to develop and apply human-machine interface (HMI) devices to exploit the sense of touch (i.e., haptics). In particular, the lab seeks to develop a motorized and computer-controlled manual (haptic) interface to realize new means of training, extending, and augmenting human expression. With improved haptic devices, it should be feasible to aid manual skills during stroke and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Current projects include haptic rendering of hybrid dynamical systems, improved haptic interfaces for vehicle control, and studies of human motor adaptation and rehabilitation with haptic devices.

For more information concerning the Haptix Laboratory, including more information about Professor Gillespie’s collaborators and a more complete explanation of its various projects, visit http://www-personal.umich.edu/~brentg/Web/index.htm.

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Human Sensorimotor Laboratory

Sean Meehan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, is Director of the Human Sensorimotor Laboratory.. The Human Sensorimotor Laboratory combines measures of behavior with numerous neuroimaging techniques – including trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, electroencephalography, and magnetic resonance imaging – to compare sensorimotor control and learning in healthy individuals with individuals with movement deficits brought on by clinical neuropathies, such as stroke. Current projects include studies relating to the impact of age-related differences in neurophysiology; attention, learning, and neuroplasticity; and inter-hemispheric contributions to neuroplasticity and motor learning after a stroke.

For more information concerning the Human Sensorimotor Laboratory, visit http://www.kines.umich.edu/lab/human-sensorimotor-laboratory.

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Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory

Directed by Chandramouli Krishnan, P.T., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the Neuromuscular and Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory uses mechanistic and interventional research approaches to better understand neuromuscular function and regulation in the context of movement control and neuromuscular plasticity. Sophisticated techniques that detect changes at the biomechanical, neurophysiological, and clinical levels are used to evaluate neuromotor performance and recovery. Technologies such as robotic gait trainers and noninvasive brain stimulation are used to improve neuromuscular function. The goal of this lab is to develop more effective and efficient rehabilitation methods for individuals with neurological and orthopedic disorders. 

For more information concerning the Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory, visit http://neurro-lab.engin.umich.edu/.

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Rehabilitation Biomechanics Laboratory

Deanna Gates, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Biomedical Engineering, is the Director of the Rehabilitation Biomechanics Laboratory. The Rehabilitation Biomechanics Laboratory’s focus is on the study of repetitive human movements, such as walking and reaching. Determining which aspects of movement a person actively controls can enable the effective modeling of such functions. With this improved understanding of  appropriate control strategies, we can design both passive and active devices to mimic biological function. Current projects include studies on upper limb motion during everyday tasks, the design of upper limb prostheses, and the function of powered ankle prostheses on varying terrain.

For more information concerning the Rehabilitation Biomechanics Laboratory, visit http://rehab-biomech-lab.kines.umich.edu/.

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Robotics and Motion Laboratory

C. David Remy, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, is the Director of the Robotics and Motion Laboratory.  This laboratory focuses on the design, optimization, and control of legged robots, exoskeletons, and other assistive robotic devices.  Drawing inspiration from biology and biomechanics, Robotics and Motion Laboratory researchers are particularly interested in the effect and exploitation of natural dynamic motions, the role of different gaits, and the possibility of force/torque controllable devices.  Their goal is to make future legged robots and assistive devices faster, more efficient, and more agile then todays kinematically controlled solutions.  Current projects involve the study of passive dynamic locomotion with quadrupeds, robotic gait creation through optimization, and the control of robotic exoskeletons for assisting human movement.

For more information concerning the Robotics and Motion Laboratory, visit http://ram-lab.engin.umich.edu.

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Sensory Augmentation and Rehabilitation Laboratory

Directed by Kathleen Sienko, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, the Sensory Augmentation and Rehabilitation Laboratory focuses on the design, development, and evaluation of medical devices for sensory substitution. In particular, the laboratory aims to create devices to aid balance-impaired populations such as individuals with vestibular loss, stroke, traumatic brain injury, peripheral neuropathy, and the elderly. Lab personnel design, develop, and assess technologies that support clinical and home-based balance rehabilitation training by using sensory substitution, to provide corrective instructions during balance-related exercises.

For more information concerning the Sensory Augmentation and Rehabilitation Lab, visit http://sienkolab.engin.umich.edu/drupal/node/78.

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