SMPP Seminars - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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SMPP Seminars 2015

To schedule a seminar at SMPP, please contact the seminar coordinators at

  ***All seminars are in RIC, Room 1301 (map) at 12pm - 1pm unless otherwise noted.

Fri April 17

Speaker: Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD

Title: New Concepts for Attaching Prostheses to People

Abstract: The most challenging and important part of any prosthesis is how you attract the device to the person. The residual limbs of people with amputations have a nice rigid long bone, that is covered with multiple layers of compliant tissue.  At the CBM we have been working on improving this human machine interface in many ways.  Dr Kuiken will show preliminary work and early concepts on 4 different approaches to improving this interface.  

Fri April 10

Speaker: Diane L. Damiano, PhD PT 

Title: Activity-based neurorehabilitation for cerebral palsy: How well are we doing? 
Abstract: This presentation will discuss the effectiveness of current activity-based neurorehabilitation strategies primarily aimed at improving mobility in children withcerebral palsy.  It is now well-recognized that motor activity (or lack thereof) drives both muscle and brain plasticity. Intense motor training paradigms utilizing various types of devices have become increasingly common in CP rehabilitation with outcomes not always as anticipated.  Emerging principles on the types, amounts and timing of activity that may best promote these processes will be discussed with respect to existing and novel strategies. Developmental and individual genetic factors and how these may affect responsiveness to motor training in CP will also be considered.

Host: Drs. Gaebler & Zhang

Fri April 3

Speaker: Alex Leow, PhD

Title: Multi-modal Connectomics of the Human Brain
Abstract:  In this talk, I will provide an overview of multi-modal brain connectomics as a rapidly evolving field in computational neuroimaging. Using structural brain connectome as an example, we will first look at diffusion-weighted MR imaging developed in order to better understand the micro-architecture of white matter. Next, we will examine related techniques including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) and diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI). These techniques naturally lead to white matter tractography, based on which structural brain networks or “connectomes” can be built. This paves the way for the application of graph theory to probe the organizational properties of the human brain modelled as a graph. Most recent developments by our own group to investigate and further explore the translational implications of connectomics will be discussed. Case study topics may include the digital clock drawing test and virtual-reality connectome visualization.

Host: Dr. Patton

Tue March 31

Speaker: Michelle Ferrill

Title: Sentence Processing in Aphasia: Contributions of Word Level Deficits

Abstract:  Although listeners rarely have difficulty understanding spoken language, the intricate complexity of language comprehension becomes all too obvious after an individual suffers neural trauma that results in aphasia.  Individuals with one type of aphasia in particular, agrammatic Broca’s aphasia, have generally spared comprehension of sentences that follow the most common (canonical) word order in a language, but comprehension becomes impaired when sentences deviate from that order (e.g., Caramazza & Zurif, 1976; Grodzinsky, 2000; and many others).  Revealing the underlying basis for this comprehension disorder would shed light on brain-language relations and would also allow for more effective treatment approaches.  One hypothesis that has been supported by recent research implicates delayed lexical access during sentence comprehension (Love, Swinney, Walenski, & Shapiro, 2008; Ferrill, Love, Walenski, & Shapiro, 2012; see also Thompson & Choy, 2009).  Our work suggests that this lexical access delay affects syntactic processes and thus contributes to the sentence comprehension deficits observe in this population. This talk will present findings from three studies: (1) a study which evaluated the time-course of lexical access during sentence processing in Broca’s aphasia via a method that measures real-time processing, that is, processing that is occurring as the sentence is ongoing; (2) a study that examined the relationship between these real-time lexical access patterns and patterns of brain damage in areas of the brain that have been linked to language; as well as (3) a study that attempted to exploit anticipatory processing cues to mitigate the lexical processing delay.  Finally, a treatment study will be proposed that attempts to capitalize on sensitivity to certain types of processing cues in the listeners with Broca’s aphasia who have a comprehension disorder.

Host: Dr. Cherney

Fri March 20

Speaker: William S. Evans, MS, CCC-SLP

Title: Cognitive Control and Task Effects in Aphasia

Abstract:  Executive control, attention, and language impairments often co-occur following stroke, and this observation has led to an increasing interest in the role of control processes in aphasia. This talk will present parts of my doctoral work, which explores relationships between cognitive control, task goals, and automatic linguistic processes in the post-stoke aphasia population. Results will be interpreted using the Ratcliff Diffusion Model, a classic forced-choice decision model that incorporates both accuracy and reaction time data to derive underlying parameters claimed to drive the decision process. Potential implications for aphasia rehabilitation will be discussed.

Host: Dr. Cherney

Fri March 13

Speaker: Luca Lonini, PhD

Title:  Wearable sensors and machine learning: using novel outcome tools in rehabilitation

Abstract:  The use of wearable sensors as a tool for continuous health monitoring is gaining interest due to their low cost and increasing memory storage and computing power. Machine learning algorithms are often used in this context to infer relevant information from the sensors data and inform clinicians on patients’ outcomes.
In this talk I will present two applications exploiting the synergy of these fields in physical rehabilitation: the first consists of measuring walking quality in spinal cord injury patients’ who are trained to use a robotic exoskeleton to walk; the second case is a comparative study of the effect of a computerized leg brace (C-brace) vs. a traditional stance-control orthoisis (SCO) on patients’ everyday activities.

Fri March 6

Speakers: Jessica Crujeiras, Nathalia Headley and Andy Kondrat

Title: Informed Consent in Research at RIC: Policy, Compliance, and Ethics

Fri Feb 27

Speaker: Katharine Polasek, PhD

Title: Referred Sensation from Surface Electrical Stimulation as a Potential Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain

Abstract:  Phantom limb pain adversely affects a majority of amputees and most treatment options are unsatisfactory. The long term goal of this research is to develop a non-invasive therapy to treat phantom limb pain in individuals with amputations. This therapy will be based on the theory that a major contributor to phantom limb pain is lack of input from the missing limb. Our hypothesis is that sensation from the missing limb paired with appropriate visual feedback will lead to an overall decrease in painful sensations. Prior to testing in amputees, we needed to show that we could reliably evoke distal referred sensation through proximal stimulation. I will first talk about our testing on individuals with intact-limbs where we have been able to reliably evoke a tapping sensation in the hand or foot though surface electrical stimulation at the elbow or knee. At times we have evoked sensations in different hand locations but this has been more difficult to reproduce. To investigate what we are actually activating and see if we can determine a method to reliably produce sensations in different location we developed a computer model of surface electrical stimulation. This model will be used to predict the effect of electrode location, size and configuration on which part of the nerve is activated and help design an electrode configuration that can be adjusted to activate distinct distal locations. Future work will include using the rubber hand illusion to quantify the reality of the evoked sensations and experiments with individuals with amputations to evaluate the decrease in phantom limb pain due to periodic restoration of sensation.

Host: Carrie Peterson

Fri Feb 13

Speaker: Jinsung Wang, PhD

Title: Generalization of sensorimotor adaptation across different motor effectors

Abstract:  Motor learning can generalize across different motor effectors. However, the extent of generalization across different effectors is typically​ smaller than the extent of generalization observed across different movement conditions within the same effector. While generalization of motor learning has been studied extensively, it remains unclear why generalization across different effectors is limited. Findings from our recent studies suggest that motor learning may involve two types of learning mechanisms: algorithmic learning, which is analogous to model-based learning, and instance-reliant learning, which is analogous to model-free learning. Based on the idea of instance-reliant learning, we attempt to explain why generalization of motor learning across motor effectors is limited, and also to demonstrate that providing effector-specific instances can increase the extent of interlimb generalization substantially.

Host: Dr. Patton

Fri Feb 6

Speaker: Lois Shepherd, JD

Title: Recent research ethics controversies and what they mean for comparative effectiveness (“outcomes”) research

Abstract:  If a parent is asked to enroll her pre-mature infant in a study comparing different amounts of supplemental oxygen, what should she be told? In the controversial SUPPORT Trial, conducted from 2005-2009, investigators sought to determine the best oxygen saturation levels for infants in terms of reducing risks for eye disease, neurological injury, and death. The parents were told there was no predictable increase in risk from participation in the study because both oxygen levels targeted in the study were within the “standard of care.” Was this disclosure adequate? Was it accurate? These questions have split the bioethics community to an unprecedented degree. This session will discuss the SUPPORT Trial, basic principles of research ethics, and where research regulation is headed in relation to comparative effectiveness research.

Host: Max Shepherd

Tue Feb 3

Speaker: Amy Orsborn, PhD

Title: Designing neuroprostheses in closed-loop

Abstract:  The ultimate goal for motor neuroprostheses is to provide high performance that can be maintained for long-term use in the varied activities of daily life. Leveraging the closed-loop, co-adaptive nature of neuroprostheses may be particularly beneficial for meeting these challenges. Neuroprostheses create artificial, closed-loop control systems where the subject can actively contribute to performance via learning. In this talk, I will discuss design strategies and research motivated by this closed-loop perspective. My work focuses on non-human primate models, where subjects control virtual objects using neural activity recorded from arrays implanted in motor cortex. I will first discuss closed-loop decoder adaptation (CLDA), which adapts the decoding algorithm as the user controls the prosthetic to improve performance. I will then show that CLDA can be combined with neural adaptation, and that incorporating both forms of adaptation may be useful for producing long-lasting flexible devices. I will also discuss new work exploring the potential importance of signal selection for neuroprosthetic performance. I will present a new method to simultaneously record neural activity across multiple spatial scales (electrocorticography, local field potentials, and action potentials). This method, combined with peripheral recordings like electromyography, will allow us to optimize signal selection for high-performance neuroprostheses.

Host: Dr. Miller

Fri. Jan 30

Speakers: Reva Johnson and Lauren Smith

Title 1: Sensorimotor Adaptation with Powered Upper-Limb Prosthesis Control

Abstract:  Powered upper limb prostheses offer hope in restoring the abilities lost to amputation; however, the current lack of kinesthetic feedback requires users to devote constant visual attention. Providing additional sensory feedback is an intuitive solution, and many groups are working towards clinical implementation. However, we do not understand how amputees rely on sensory feedback during movements with a prosthesis, and how this use of feedback differs from movements with intact limbs. To help answer these questions, we studied how amputees and able-bodied subjects relied on feedback during trial-by-trial adaptation using different control signals: joint angle, joint torque, and EMG. Our results suggest that adaptation was not significantly affected by control signal or limb used, but depended primarily on mean error. Thus we can apply models of sensorimotor adaptation to powered prosthesis control and use them to clarify the most effective sensory feedback information.

Title 2: Intramuscular EMG for the Simultaneous Control of Multiple Degrees of Freedom in Upper-Limb Myoelectric Prostheses

Abstract:  Clinically available myoelectric prostheses use surface EMG signals to control prosthetic joint movement, and have limited ability to provide simultaneous control of multiple degrees of freedom (DOFs). Instead, most patients are required to operate each DOF sequentially, unlike the coordinated multi-joint movements produced by intact limbs. Recent advances in implantable EMG recording devices have the potential to provide intramuscular EMG signals for clinical applications, which may allow for the use of simultaneous control approaches that have not been successfully implemented using surface EMG. Using fine wire EMG recordings from the forearm, we investigated the potential for using intramuscular EMG for the simultaneous control of a three-DOF wrist/hand system. We evaluated different methods for predicting intended wrist/hand movement from intramuscular EMG, how subjects used the simultaneous myoelectric control in a virtual task, and the potential for providing improved controllability compared to sequential control methods. 

Fri Jan 23

Speaker: Tommaso Lenzi, PhD

Title: User-Adaptive Control of Powered Transfemoral Prostheses: Leveraging Robotics to Meet the Clinical Needs of the Amputee Population

Abstract:  Robotic leg prostheses can actively regulate joint torque to emulate the full biomechanical functionality of the healthy limb, possibly restoring physiological gait efficiency and stability. However, proper emulation of the healthy limb depends on how well the prosthesis controller synchronizes the movement of the leg with the movement of the user. To this end, available control strategies rely on experimental, user-specific tuning that optimizes the leg behavior for the user’s preferred speed and cadence. Outside the tuned speed and cadence the prosthesis does not properly synchronize with the movement of the user, thus impairing walking ability. In addition, the tuning process is time consuming and requires expertise in robotics, which considerably limits the clinical viability of powered robotic legs. We have developed a new controller that automatically adapts to the user’s speed and cadence, providing physiological gait symmetry and joint energetics without need for tuning. The talk will describe the design, implementation, and preliminary validation of the new controller on transfemoral amputee patients.

Tue Jan 6

Speaker: Mingbo Cai

Title: Time perception - impact of expectation and duration cue combination

Abstract:  Our perception of duration can be biased by many factors, including both stimulus history and stimulus properties. In this talk, I am going to present results from psychophysical experiments and modeling work to answer two questions: (1) is the influence of stimulus history on perceived duration due to the expectation of a stimulus or purely because of stimulus repetition? (2) How does the brain form a representation of duration when simultaneously presented stimuli provide conflicting cues of duration?

Host: Dr. Kording