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RIC Awarded Two New RERCs

Technologies to Evaluate and Advance Manipulation and Mobility (TEAMM)

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

Dr Todd Kuiken and researchers at the Center for Bionic Medicine (CBM) within the RIC were recently awarded a new NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center award on Manipulation and Mobility. The Center will be called Technologies to Evaluate and Advance Manipulation and Mobility (TEAMM). Building on the scientific, engineering, and clinical resources of the CBM, TEAMM-RERC will include six projects with a focus on translational research, i.e., the development of innovative systems that are clinically deployable. Two of the projects, R1 and R2 involve research/evaluation of new technologies through clinical trials; D4 is a development project; and three projects (D1, R3; D2, R4; and D3, R5) involve both technology development and clinical research/evaluation components.  

  • R1: Clinical evaluation of a novel body-powered prehensor, developed at CBM, that provides both voluntary open and voluntary close options to the user
  • R2: Evaluation of the Ekso™, a powered exoskeleton, as a therapeutic tool to enhance mobility in individuals after severe stroke
  • D1, R3: Development and evaluation of a smartphone­-based app for monitoring mobility and social interactions in individuals within the community, after stroke
  • D2, R4: Development and evaluation of a control system for advanced, multifunctional partial hand prostheses
  • D3, R5: Development and evaluation of a manual wheelchair, with an ergonomically efficient lever drive, that allows users to be mobile in both sitting and standing positions
  • D4: Development of a lightweight powered prosthetic leg suitable for older or smaller users

TEAMM-RERC will also provide a comprehensive education and training program to educate the next generation of scientists and clinicians to be experts in disability technology, and a broad dissemination plan to ensure that information generated is widely distributed to consumers, the public, clinicians, and scientists.

Timing Investigation Dosage Implementation (TIDI)

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and its partners seek to develop an internationally acclaimed center designed to establish a rational basis for quantifying the appropriate time distribution for use of robotic and computer-based interventions in rehabilitation therapy. These interventions include simple robotic devices for providing locomotion therapy after hemispheric stroke, computer-based speech training for aphasia, virtual-reality systems for upper extremity retraining after stroke, and passive stretching of ankle muscles to improve gait in stroke survivors. One project will examine training protocols with Ekso™, an exoskeleton designed for use in patients with spinal cord injury. We have chosen to focus largely on stroke, because this is the most common neurological disorder requiring intensive and prolonged rehabilitation, and because the problems of stroke rehabilitation are systematically different from those faced in other major neurological disorders, such as spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.

Our Center seeks to address two elemental questions.

  1. How do we distribute the therapy episodes provided by robotic systems over time?
  2. How do therapists interact with robotics devices when these devices are delivering the therapy often with minimal hands-on treatment coming from the clinician?

Timing Investigation Dosage Implementation (TIDI) is a center of excellence established by funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research’s (NIDRR) Rehabilitation Engineering Research Program (RERC).

Our vision for the first three years of the TIDI-RERC program is to develop a framework for optimal therapy scheduling using the DEVELOPMENT framework of the NIDRR to help us to collect suitable data from a range of neurological illnesses and to develop suitable mathematical models that describe the time-course of therapy effects and subsequent decay. We will then test this framework and the therapist interaction in three studies as RESEARCH projects in the last two to three years.

RIC together with its partners at Northwestern University (NU) will design and implement a program of research and development, centered on the use of robots and advanced technologies for restoration of function in hemispheric stroke survivors.

We will offer seven projects of intensive study:

  • D1, R1: Computationally assisted upper extremity stroke therapy strategies using kinematic and functional measurements during mixed-reality rehabilitation
  • D2, R2: Time distribution of computer-based script training in aphasia
  • D3, R3: Robot-aided sensorimotor therapy with telerehabilitation in subacute and chronic stroke-therapy scheduling
  • D4: Optimizing time distribution of training sessions for robotic exoskeletons use in individuals with spinal cord injury

We will also provide a Computational Core facility to provide computational and modeling support of all the research projects, directed by Konrad Kording, PhD.

There will be a separate advanced education and training project for undergraduate engineers dedicated to the design of simple devices for rehabilitation as part of Northwestern University's highly successful initiative in engineering design education.