RIC research Seminars 2016 - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC Research Seminars 2016

To schedule a seminar at SMPP, please contact the seminar coordinators at seminar-coordinator@ricres.org

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

Fri, April 29

Speaker: Amos Winter, PhD

Title: Using the constraints of emerging markets to create high-performance, low-cost assistive devices

Abstract:The MIT Global Engineering and Research (GEAR) Lab strives to understand the unique technical and socioeconomic challenges imposed by emerging markets, and then utilize engineering science and product design to create high-performance, low-cost, globally-relevant technologies. This talk will focus on GEAR Lab’s work designing wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs. The Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) is an all-terrain wheelchair that is 80% faster and 40% more efficient than conventional wheelchairs offered in the developing world, and can be completely fabricated out of low-cost materials and bicycle components. These attributes have made the chair a valuable product in poor countries, and a disruptive technology for the U.S. and European market. The talk will also cover GEAR Lab’s work to parametrically connect the mechanical design of prosthetic knees and feet to the anticipated biomechanical performance of amputees who use these devices. We have devised a way to predict the ideal torque profile for a low-mass prosthetic knee to induce able-bodied kinematics, and how this profile can be replicated using low-cost, passive mechanical elements. For prosthetic feet, we have created a new evaluation metric that builds on roll-over shape and incorporates kinematic and temporal information about the lower leg trajectory, in order to tune the stiffness and geometry of the foot to replicate able-bodied walking motion.

Fri, April 22

Speaker: Tom Ferrone

Title: Intellectual Property 101 at RIC
Abstract:This talk will give an overview of patents, trademarks, and copyrights at RIC. In addition, we will cover the basic agreements that RIC uses to support research, including non-disclosure agreements, subawards, joint development agreements, and IP licensing agreements.

Thur, April 21

Speaker: Dr. Sun Chung, PhD

Title: New Therapeutic Considerations for Mechanical Connective Soft Tissue Lesions: Biomechanical Approach to Low Back Exercise and Stem Cell Application for Tendon Tears
Abstract:Mechanical connective soft tissues (MCST), to name a few – intervertebral discs, knee meniscus, rotator cuff tendons, collateral ligaments, plantar fascia, and heel fat pad - play key roles in common musculoskeletal pain and disability. Life-long gradual deterioration of MCST has become a major problem as human life expectancy has significantly increased. Because MCST lesions are progressive with numerous injury-healing-reinjury cycles throughout a whole life requiring continuous management, conservative management principle seems more appropriate than operative approach. New strategies for conservative treatment of MCST lesions will be discussed. Firstly, optimal exercise therapies for low back pain will be discussed on the basis of biomechanical perspectives. Secondly, application of stem cells on tendon tears will be presented including animal experiment and clinical trial results.

Fri, April 15

Speaker: Dr. Jun Yao, PhD

Title: Cortical reorganization following interventions
Abstract: During the past ten years, surface electroencephalogram (EEG) signals have been used in our lab to study the cortical reorganization following nerve injury and interventions. This presentation tries to demonstrate evidence that changes in cortical activity following interventions can be used as a biomarker for the effectiveness of treatments.
Specifically, this presentation will disseminate cortical reorganization following 1) targeted reinnervation in amputee subjects, 2) progressive shoulder abduction loading intervention of reaching in chronic stroke subjects, and 3) ReIn-Hand-assisted task-specific upper limb intervention in individuals with moderate to severe stroke.
In general, our results suggest that an effective treatment is associated with the return of cortical features closer to a normal case.

Fri, April 8   Location

Speaker: Dr. Eric Hoffman, PhD

Title: Successful vs. failed remodeling of muscle: What genetic modifiers and synchrony may teach us
Abstract: Muscle, as with many tissues, is capable of remodeling. Remodeling can occur in terms of cellular adaptations (e.g. hypertrophy of myofibers), or can occur in the context of necrosis and regeneration. Muscle regeneration typically occurs in response to acute muscle injury, and in this context is 'episodic' (a single bout of degeneration and regeneration taking place over 2-3 week time frame). However, many of the clinical conditions of muscle involve chronic remodeling (inflammation and injury that does not resolve well). Chronic inflammation and remodeling of muscle (and many tissues) can lead to fibrosis - fibrotic replacement of the tissue that can be commensurate with failure of tissue function. Sometimes called 'failed regeneration', this process is quite striking in Duchenne muscular dystrophy - an inborn error of muscle that leads to repetitive bouts of degeneration/regeneration, fibrotic replacement, muscle wasting and an early death. We sought to understand the molecular underpinnings of failed regeneration in muscle. We found that episodic remodeling and successful regeneration share nearly all molecular features with chronic remodeling and failed regeneration. However, the major distinction was the staging of molecular processes as a function of time. Whereas certain key elements of episodic remodeling each have their 'place and time' (synchronous remodeling), chronic inflammation and unsuccessful remodeling is a dyssynchronous process, with wrong molecular players playing roles at the wrong time and wrong place. This model is shown experimentally through re-creation of asynchronous remodeling in normal mouse muscle. The model is then extended to include studies of asthma and lung inflammation, as well as the mechanism of action of corticosteroids (a pharmacological variant of the diurnal hormone, cortisol).
Host: Dr. Leiber

Tue, April 16

Speaker: Majed Samad

Title:  A cognitive perspective of bilingual language control: An evolving field in language rehabilitation?

Abstract:  Two separate lines of research have widely studied, in isolation, language control and cognitive control in the bilingual brain. With a growing bilingual population, it is imperative to understand the link between the two systems (linguistic and cognitive) not only to recognize the consequences bilingualism has on language processing and production, but also because it holds important implications for language rehabilitation. The first section of the talk will provide a brief overview of the mechanisms of bilingual language control across the life-span. This section will highlight the role of domain-general executive control, especially individual differences in inhibitory control, in selecting words from the contextually appropriate language. The second section will briefly focus on the clinical implications of the interplay between cognitive and linguistic systems for effective language rehabilitation.

Wed, March 30  

Speaker: Dr. Arthur (Art) English, PhD

Title:   Enhancing axon regeneration in peripheral nerves with exercise

Abstract:  Moderate exercise is an experimental rehabilitation treatment that enhances axon regeneration following peripheral nerve injury. The effectiveness of exercise in this regard relies on its promotion of neuronal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and on androgen receptor signaling. Increased neuronal activity is adequate to promote regeneration in injured nerves, but the dosing of activity and its relationship to neurotrophins and sex steroid hormones are less clear. Effective translation of these therapies will require the development of principles associated with their cellular mechanisms.

At the end of this lecture, you should be able to:

  1. Show how moderate daily exercise may be used to enhance recovery from peripheral nerve injuries.
  2. Identify the evidence that neuronal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and androgen receptor signaling are required for the effectiveness of these treatments.
  3. Define how knowledge of these cellular mechanisms might contribute to promoting the clinical translation of these therapies

Fri, March 25

Speaker: Dr. James (Jim) Elliott, PT, PhD

Title:   Quantifying injury following Motor Vehicle Collisions…making the invisible, visible

Abstract:  Integrated and global research efforts involving a diverse group of professionals has realized that the prediction of recovery following motor vehicle collisions involves a complex interplay between biological, psychological, and environmental processes. Jim and his lab are working on new imaging based methods for making the mostly invisible experience of pain and disability more visible and meaningful at the level of the clinician. In this session, Jim will speak about emerging advancements in the clinical assessment of the patient with suspected head/neck trauma.


Be able to integrate current best evidence into effective assessment, sub-group classification and management of the patient with acute and chronic traumatically induced neck disorders.

To highlight recent evidence of physiological changes in spinal cord and skeletal muscle tissues following whiplash injury.

Integrate this new knowledge into a ‘triangulated’ understanding of a patient’s pain complaint, and develop effective management strategies to prevent the transition from acute to chronic pain and disability.

Fri, March 18

Speaker: Dustin Tyler, PhD

Title:   Restoring Touch: Development and Clinical Implementation of Advanced Neural Interface Technology

Abstract:  Loss of limb, spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological impairments result in loss of sensation and of function for millions of people every year with no prospect of help from pharmacological or traditional surgical treatment. Neural prostheses reconnect sensory feedback and motor function to these patients. The link between the man and the man-made, i.e. the neural interface, is a critical component to system performance and capability. Restoration of somatosensation and autonomic function, with the potential to replace pharmacological approaches, is only possible with direct neural interfaces. The current pipeline of state-of-the-art interface approaches, from concept to clinical implementation, will be highlighted. For nearly 2 million people in the US and 185,000 more each year, the loss of sensation is one of the most significant effects of limb loss resulting from trauma or vascular disease. We have connected sensors in the prosthesis directly to the user’s nerves, restoring sensory feedback and closed-loop robotic control to individuals with upper extremity limb loss. Selective stimulation of small regions of the peripheral nerve provides spatial resolution in the perceived sensation and development of new pulse coding allows control of the quality of the sensation. Sensation improves fine task control and Individuals now feel tactile sensation, have improved control, sense motion, and have ability to discriminate texture. In the words of a subject, they can, “feel [my] hand for the first time since the accident,” and “feel [my] wife touch my hand.”

Wed, March 14

Speaker: Jonathan Rivnay, PhD

Title: Organic electronics for neural interfacing
Abstract: The interface between electronics and the human brain represents one of the most significant technological and scientific endeavors of our time. Plugging into the brain, one of nature’s most complex and least understood creations, promises to reveal how we function and to unlock new routes for diagnosis and treatment. Organic electronic materials possess attractive properties for favorably bridging electronics and brain tissue; they are better mechanically matched to tissue than inorganic materials, and support mixed ionic/electronic conduction, allowing for efficient bi- directional communication with the brain. I will address how these unique properties can be implemented in active devices that advance the current state of the art in recording and stimulation of brain activity. Organic electrochemical transistors, for example, are ideal platforms for neural interfacing due to their high power gain. I harness the volumetric gating of these devices to demonstrate human electroencephalography (EEG) measurements with significant signal enhancement at low frequencies. I then demonstrate the use of conducting polymers and polyelectrolytes as active elements in organic electronic ion pumps -- devices which allow for localized electrophoretic delivery, without the adverse effects of fluidic delivery. I show that delivery of an endogenous inhibitory neurotransmitter can stop seizure-like activity locally in brain tissue. Finally, I demonstrate how the ionic and electronic transport properties of organic electronic materials can be controlled with chemistry and processing techniques. These findings set the stage for a more general fundamental understanding of mixed conduction in organic materials, which is necessary for rational materials and device design for far-reaching bioelectronic applications.

Fri, March 11

Speaker: Ning Jiang, PhD 

Title: Towards robustness myoelectric control: some preliminary studies
Abstract: sEMG, in addition to its inherent variability, is influenced by a number of factors when used as the control source of prosthetic devices. These factors include electrode positions, positions, joint-angles of limbs and trunk, contraction level, user adaptation, just to name a few. It has been shown by researchers at SMPP and others that these changing condition of these factors can be detrimental for myoelectric control algorithms that do not account for these effects. This is one of the a key challenges in myoelectric control. In this talk, I will discuss several studies by me and my colleagues in Germany and China in addressing this challenge.

Wed, March 9

Speaker: Robert Gregg, PhD

Title: High-Performance Control of Lower-Limb Prosthetics and Orthotics: Lessons from Robot Locomotion

Abstract: The gait cycle is typically viewed as a periodic sequence of discrete events, starting with heel contact during initial stance and ending with knee extension during late swing. This convention has informed the design of control strategies for powered prosthetic legs, which almost universally utilize a finite state machine to switch between several distinct controllers throughout the gait cycle. This paradigm requires substantial time and effort to tune the many controller and switching parameters, and it is not robust to perturbations that push the gait cycle forward or backwards (i.e., changes in phase). This makes it difficult to 1) study the control mechanisms of non-steady human gait and 2) design wearable robots that respond in harmony with the human user. Instead of discretely representing the phases of gait, a continuous representation of phase could parameterize larger portions, or the entirety, of the gait cycle. In particular, the concept of a mechanical phase variable has been successfully used to control the progression of leg joints in dynamic walking robots. However, it is unclear which phase variable, if any, could provide a robust representation of phase for non-steady human locomotion. This talk will share the results of a perturbation study with 10 able-bodied human subjects, observing that a specific mechanical variable can robustly parameterize the human gait cycle with very high correlation. This phase variable is then implemented in a unified controller to synchronize prosthetic joint patterns with the location of the human body in the gait cycle. This approach is validated by experiments with a human subject walking on a custom powered knee-ankle prosthesis at variable speeds. Having unified the control of specific tasks, ongoing work aims to achieve task-invariant control of wearable robots through energy shaping methods.

Fri, March 4

Speaker: Helena Fordell, MD

Title: RehAtt – a multi sensory scanning training in Virtual Reality for neglect, associated to increase of frontal neuronal activity in chronic neglect
Abstract: A presentation and demonstration of a visuo spatial scanning training enhanced by directed visual, audio and tactile stimulation cues and feedback,
including visuo-motor activation designed in a Virtual Reality 3D game. The user perceived an interactive 3D environment using a desktop computer, a monitor,
3D glasses and a force feedback interface by the use of Phantom Omni, robotic device. A first evaluation has been made in 15 subjects with chronic neglect in tests, behavioral assessment and fMRI. Training with the VR-method improved spatial attention and showed transfer to improved spatial attention in activities of daily living in chronic neglect. A fMRI study was performed in 12 of the patients and showed how patients improved their performance in the Posner fMRI task. In addition, patients increased their task-evoked brain activity as a consequence of the VR interventions in an extended network including prefrontal and temporal cortex during attentional cueing. In resting state during fMRI the preliminary results show a significant improvement in connectivity in the dorsal attention network after training. In a Proof of Concept study founded by the Swedish government we visit key-opnion leaders for feedback about design and feasibility.

Fri, Feb 19

Speaker: Ken Paller, PhD

Title:   Off-Line Learning via Sleep-Based Memory Re-Procesing
Abstract:  The benefits of learning depend on neurocognitive processing of various sorts, including processing engaged well after the overt activities of acquisition and practice. The many hours we spend sleeping may provide a vital opportunity for such off-line processing. Although most memories that we form each day are later forgotten, some are stabilized and can endure indefinitely. Some memories may remain retrievable particularly because they are robustly reactivated and consolidated during sleep. In experiments utilizing subtle auditory stimulation, we can selectively encourage memory reactivation during sleep, modulating various types of learning as measured later. These strategies have opened up new opportunities for investigating learning, with the potential for novel clinical applications such as in stroke recovery.

Thur, Feb 18

Speaker: Megan O’Brien, PhD

Title: The neuroeconomics of error and effort in movement

Abstract: Consider that the goal of a voluntary movement is to put the body in a more valuable state, so that our movement decisions are based on maximizing rewards and minimizing any costs incurred while pursuing those rewards. Neuroeconomic principles are well-suited for describing movement behavior and control in this way, allowing us to quantify the utility of movement as a summation of the movement’s rewards and costs. The reward of a movement depends on the value of the object attained as well as the probability of obtaining it. The cost of a movement can be naturalistically represented as the effort spent in executing the motor commands. Then, the utility of a movement is determined by getting as much reward as possible while expending as little effort as possible. Importantly, these rewards and costs are susceptible to subjective valuation (wherein individuals may assign more or less value to them than their objective worth), which in turn affects movement behavior. Formalizing movement as a decision-making process allows us to compare the subjective valuation of these rewards and costs between tasks, domains, and populations.
In this talk, I will describe human movement using a neuroeconomic framework. I will present several novel studies that contribute to a broader question: how do subjective interpretations of movement rewards and costs manifest in our behavior? Specifically, I will discuss how implicit threat affects our weighting of the probability of movement error, and how a well-known cognitive bias affects our valuation of movement effort.

Tue, Feb 16

Speaker: Majed Samad

Title: Models of own-body perception and applications to the clinic

Abstract: The body is a fundamental anchor in every individual's perceptual reality, possessing privileged processing status and underlying much of what may be called the sense of selfhood. We have investigated the computational rules governing the integration of information that relates to one's own body using useful illusions such as the rubber hand illusion and a novel visual-tactile variant of the ventriloquist illusion, and shown that an extension of the causal inference model that has previously been shown to account for audiovisual integration can also account for the rubber hand illusion, with two experiments confirming the model's predictions. In addition to modeling, we have also attempted to utilize psychophysical paradigms to improve diagnosis of focal hand dystonia and cervical dystonia, as well as attempt to improve outcomes through the use of proprioceptive perceptual learning. Finally, we are currently conducting an EEG study to uncover the oscillatory markers of multisensory integration through the use of a novel feature selection algorithm and multivariate classification methods with the aim of diagnosing abnormalities of integration in disease populations and devising interventions for their treatment. Overall, these results demonstrate the utility of 1) computational methods for improving our understanding of neural information processing, and 2) psychophysical approaches to improving medical outcomes for patients with challenging clinical disorders.

Fri, Jan 22

Speaker: Keith Gordon, PhD

Title: Robotic Interventions to Enhance Locomotor Stability

Abstract: All mechanisms for stabilizing human walking are not equal. Often individuals with neurologic impairments choose stabilization strategies that inherently sacrifice critical components of community ambulation including speed and energetic efficiency. This is in contrast to neurologically intact individuals who utilize locomotor strategies that are concurrently stable, agile and efficient. I will present a unique perspective on how training environments can be structured to encourage individuals with neurologic impairments to actively practice “higher level” stabilization strategies that this population would typically avoid. Specifically, I will discuss a simple robotic tool we have developed to modulate the requirements for stabilization during walking and demonstrate how we are leveraging this device to drive individuals to adapt varying mechanisms for stabilizing gait.

Fri, Jan 15

Speaker: Thomas Howard, PhD

Title: Learning Models for Robot Decision Making

Abstract: The efficiency and optimality of robot decision making is often dictated by the fidelity and complexity of models for how a robot can interact with its environment. It is common for researchers to engineer these models a priori to achieve particular levels of performance for specific tasks in a restricted set of environments and initial conditions. As we progress towards more intelligent systems that perform a wider range of objectives in a greater variety of domains, the models for how robots make decisions must adapt to achieve, if not exceed, engineered levels of performance. In this talk I will discuss progress towards model adaptation for robot intelligence, including recent efforts in natural language understanding for human-robot interaction.
This presentation will introduce a framework for integrating mechanical characterization of passive prostheses, human subject testing, and numerical simulation to study these relationships and accurately classify prosthesis function in an effort to optimize clinical prescription guidelines and prosthesis designs. Methods of prosthesis mechanical characterization to inform research, clinical prescription and cost justification will be presented, as well as studies that use systematic approaches to explore the effects of isolated prosthesis properties on user performance.

Fri, Jan 8

Speaker: Matthew Major, PhD

Title: Exploring the relationships between lower-limb prosthesis mechanical properties and user performance for clinical prescription and prosthesis design optimization.

Abstract: Prosthetists are confronted with the universal challenge to select from a wide variety of commercially-available lower-limb prostheses to best help patients reach their functional and health-related goals. With more prosthetic components being developed each year, this challenge becomes increasingly difficult, particularly as the fundamental relationship between prosthesis mechanical properties (i.e., stiffness, damping, and roll-over geometry) and user performance (e.g., walking dynamics, muscle activation patterns, and metabolic cost) are still poorly understood. This lack of understanding hinders the development of future prostheses that are designed to maximize walking efficiency. Furthermore, there is no standardized method for the mechanical testing of prostheses for accurate and reliable classification based on functional characteristics (e.g., energy storage-and-return, multi-axial, etc.). Without such standardized methods, clinical prescription, recommendation, and cost justification suffer from ambiguity and may result in suboptimal patient rehabilitation outcomes. Characterization of prosthesis mechanical properties provides a critical means for systematic exploration of the effects of these properties on the biomechanical and physiological performance of lower-limb prosthesis users, and allows for accurate and reliable prosthesis functional classification. Ultimately, improved understanding of this paradigm will inform clinical prescription guidelines and facilitate development of optimal prosthesis designs to enhance the mobility and health of lower-limb prosthesis users.

This presentation will introduce a framework for integrating mechanical characterization of passive prostheses, human subject testing, and numerical simulation to study these relationships and accurately classify prosthesis function in an effort to optimize clinical prescription guidelines and prosthesis designs. Methods of prosthesis mechanical characterization to inform research, clinical prescription and cost justification will be presented, as well as studies that use systematic approaches to explore the effects of isolated prosthesis properties on user performance.