RE@CSU

Student Projects

Restoring Reaching to People with High Spinal Cord Injury

Faculty Mentor Eric Schearer

Schearer labInterface to design

Summary. Functional electrical stimulation neuroprostheses are the most promising means for restoring arm and hand functions to people with paralyzed arms. Due to the complexity in controlling the shoulder and elbow, the most advanced neuroprosthesis for controlling reaching movements relies on frequent tuning by a technical expert. However, constant changes in the strength and stiffness of muscles along with the large number of potential reaching movements do not lend well to a strategy based on frequent expert tuning. The objective of this project is to  coordinate electrical stimulation of multiple  muscles  to  evoke  reaching  movements  and  to  expand  and improve upon those reaching movements as a user’s muscles and goals change. The central hypothesis is that person-specific models of muscles’ responses to electrical stimulation can be learned and used to coordinate muscles to evoke reaching movements and that reaching movements can be improved and  expanded  with  tactile  feedback  from  a  nonexpert caregiver.

REU Student Involvement. The student(s) will do one of the following projects:

  1. Design and testing of a robotic human arm emulator.  In this project a student will program software to send information from a computer simulation of a human arm to a robot, design a robot control strategy to mimic the simulated human arm, and evaluate the system to ensure matching between the human arm simulation and the robot.  
  2. Design and testing of an eye-tracking interface for control of robot and human arm movements.  This project involves understanding how human eye and hand movements are coordinated and in turn how we can leverage this knowledge to efficiently control robots with human eye tracking. 
  3. Optimization of motion capture techniques for people with spinal cord injuries.  Students will design and improve techniques for placement of motion capture markers on human participants, alighment of markers with bony landmarks, and algorithms for computing shoulder and elbow joint angles from motion capture data.

Health Care and Patient Experience. Students will observe experiments with people with high spinal cord injuries at MetroHealth Old Brooklyn Health Center where Dr. Schearer regularly conducts human subjects experiments as a member of the Bioscientific Staff.

 

Balance Training in the Community

Faculty Mentor Ann Reinthal

MDHBT 20,000 leaksHigh tunnel

Summary. Balance is necessary for mobility, and independent mobility is a key to participating in numerous life activities. We are developing more effective interventions to improve balance including an inexpensive harness system that allows individuals to move, not only anteriorly and posteriorly, but also laterally. We hypothesize that the harness system will allow for more risk taking and therefore a higher intensity of safe practice than a non-harnessed environment where falls are possible. A critical gap in rehabilitation, however, is that improvements obtained in the clinical setting do not always transfer to an individual’s real-life activities. One explanation is that clinic-based activities are not similar enough to those in real life, lacking the necessary task and environmental complexity. The proposed project involves transitioning harnessed balance training from the lab into a community setting, specifically community gardening. This transition requires several necessary adaptations which will be the focus of this student project.

REU Student Involvement. The student(s) will develop inexpensive multidirectional harness system designs for several common community garden layouts (raised beds, high tunnels, etc.) and inexpensive active-assist mechanisms to assist during sit to stand and kneeling to stand. In designing the first component, the student will be introduced to several community garden sites, in particular sites where older adults or individuals with disabilities could potentially garden with the proposed adaptations. For the second component, the student will work both in the lab, first with normal and then balance impaired individuals, to develop a robust design.

Health Care and Patient Experience. This project has direct contact with human research subjects as described above and with Dr. Reinthal, who is a licensed physical therapist.

Laboratory Balance Training

Faculty Mentor Debbie Espy

load cell project

Summary. Falls are an enormous problem for older adults and adults with disabilities: they risk morbidity and mortality, and even non-injurious falls lead to significant limitations in mobility, independence, and community participation. Evidence shows that balance training can reduce fall risk, and that reactive (being perturbed) training may be more effective that proactive (self- initiated). Proactive training is more typical clinically though because it is perceived as easier and safer. Our research focuses on designing proactive interventions to reduce fall risk. This study involves both testing and training of balance under various conditions: playing challenging, full- body video games on difficult support surfaces (pro-active); being slipped in standing or while walking (reactive). For these activities, participants are in a harness designed to allow freedom of movement to recover their balance independently but which supports their weight and prevents an actual fall if they are not able to recover on their own. A load cell is used to monitor the forces exerted throughout. We will also investigate the impact of the harness on motor learning and the efficacy of the balance training.

REU Student Involvement. The REU student(s) will work on the following project. Coordinating instrumentation and analysis across several projects involving motion data from two different systems and load cell data from two different systems.  This will include setting up the instrumentation and writing code to allow online analysis of the load cell signal from the gait, standing, or gaming set ups for in-the-moment decisions about the subjects’ use of the harness as they learn the balance tasks and post-hoc analysis of motion data for kinematic variables. 

Health Care and Patient Experience. All three of these would involve iterative testing of the set-up with research participants who will be older adults or adults with conditions that put them at greater risk of falling.  These studies mimic clinical training settings.  The research participants are individuals with conditions that would lead them to receive physical therapy, balance training, and fall risk reduction.

 

Powered Prosthetic Leg Technology

Faculty Mentor Dan Simon

amputee walkingrobotic leg

Summary. The Embedded Control Systems Research Lab develops novel prosthetic leg technology. About two million people in the US are lower-limb amputees, and the number is rapidly expanding because of the increasing prevalence of diabetic vascular disease. Current prosthesis technology does not restore able-bodied gait, and leads to ancillary health problems because of the amputees need to compensate for the technology’s shortcomings. Improved prosthetic leg technology will allow amputees to lead longer, more active, more functional, more healthy, and more fulfilling lives. Recent advances in prosthesis control have demonstrated impressive performance, but control depends heavily on user activity. User activity can be inferred with electromyography (EMG), but EMG is invasive and inconvenient. Also, effective prosthesis controllers require state feedback, but state feedback sensors such as load cells are bulky, heavy, expensive, and prone to malfunction. There is thus an urgent need in the prosthetics field to devise novel approaches to user intent recognition and sensorless control for transfemoral prostheses.

REU Student Involvement. The REU student research will build on current NSF-sponsored prosthesis research at CSU and the faculty mentor’s expertise in computer intelligence to develop new real-time pattern recognition algorithms to classify user activity, relying only on easily-obtained signals such as joint angles. Preliminary results are promising but the approach requires new advances in sensor fusion. REU students will: (1) conduct literature review on pattern recognition; (2) conduct literature review on prosthesis user intent; (3) become familiar with basic evolutionary algorithms; (3) simulate prosthesis user intent recognition with established pattern recognition algorithms; (4) incorporate evolutionary optimization in pattern recognition algorithms for benchmark problems; (5) implement the preceding results for prosthesis user intent recognition; (6) evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of their new algorithms using prosthesis simulation frameworks currently available at CSU.

Health Care and Patient Experience. The REU student(s) will attend amputee clinics at the Cleveland VA. These clinics, currently held every month at the VA, involve training activities and interactions between prosthetists and amputees. These clinics will provide the student with an appreciation of the importance of user intent, and an appreciation of the prosthesis usability issues that are faced by amputees. The student will be expected to reflect on their experiences at the amputee clinics in a structured way, including thinking about how prosthesis user concerns should inform their user intent research.

 

Haptic Interface and Control System Design for a PUMA Robot

Faculty Mentor Hanz Richter

Piezo Shoe

REU Student Involvement. An industrial robot with a custom data acquisition and control interface is available at the Control, Robotics and Mechatronics Lab. We would like to extend the functionality of this robot to human-machine interaction studies. The project involves designing and fabricating an adapter plate for an available 6-axis force/torque sensor followed by calibration and measurement validations.  An impedance control system will be then designed that uses feedback from the force sensor and accurate model information, allowing safe interactions with a person.

Health Care and Patient Experience. The REU student(s) will attend amputee clinics at the Cleveland VA. These clinics, currently held every month at the VA, involve training activities and interactions between prosthetists and amputees. These clinics will provide the student with an appreciation of the importance of user intent, and an appreciation of the prosthesis usability issues that are faced by amputees. The student will be expected to reflect on their experiences at the amputee clinics in a structured way, including thinking about how prosthesis user concerns should inform their user intent research.

 

Identification of feedback control in human movement

Faculty Mentor Ton van den Bogert

Ton projecttreadmill gait analysis

Summary. One of our research goals is to develop methods for identification and quantification of feedback control in human movement. This is motivated by the need to incorporate human-like control in powered prostheses and exoskeletons, but this also has potential clinical applications such as the diagnosis of neural deficits due to aging or disease.

REU Student Involvement. The goal of this student project will be to quantify reflex gains during walking. This will make use of a computer-controlled treadmill which can produce mechanical perturbations in various directions. The human response will be measured by electromyography (EMG). The student will program the system to apply one of several perturbations multiple times at the same time in the gait cycle. This will be done during a protocol of several minutes, randomly picking from a set of perturbations, so that the perturbations remain unexpected. The analysis will include signal processing to determine the EMG envelope, subtracting the baseline to highlight the reflex responses, and mapping the responses as a function of the gait cycle. This will be done in normal healthy participants. If successful, this will be extended to determine the effect of aging.

Health Care and Patient Experience. The REU student(s) will attend amputee clinics at the Cleveland VA. These clinics, currently held every month at the VA, involve training activities and interactions between prosthetists and amputees. These clinics will provide the student with an appreciation of the importance of user intent, and an appreciation of the prosthesis usability issues that are faced by amputees. The student will be expected to reflect on their experiences at the amputee clinics in a structured way, including thinking about how prosthesis user concerns should inform their user intent research.