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Neuromechanics of Impaired Locomotion: Research

The Neuromechanics of Impaired Locomotion Laboratory conducts research to understand the underlying causes of walking abnormalities in individuals with neurological injury, with emphasis on the stroke and spinal cord injured populations. The work performed in this lab is used to assist clinicians in prescribing robotic rehabilitation therapy and predicting patient outcomes for the better allocation of resources.

The framework for our research is to quantify the fundamental changes to the musculoskeletal system following cerebrovascular accident. These changes range from altered reflexes to muscle weakness to motor control impairments and may occur at the peripheral nervous system, the spinal cord, or the brain. Our work seeks to integrate these varied changes to develop a comprehensive understanding of function following neurological injury which can be used to make informed rehabilitation choices. 

To achieve this mission, we use state of the art technologies; including an eight camera infrared motion capture system with three force plates, a sixteen channel surface and intramuscular electromyography system, an electrical muscle stimulator, a custom instrumented, computerized, actuated walking exoskeleton, and an instrumented split belt treadmill. Additionally, several devises have been developed in-house such as an actuated ankle foot orthosis and multi-dimensional series elastic fixtures. These technologies allow us to quantify the changes in multidimensional joint strength, across joint torque coupling, muscle activation patterns, kinematics, and kinetics of the lower limbs following neurological injury. We also monitor the development of walking abnormalities and other neuromuscular changes over time. The experimental data is then used to validate and improve musculoskeletal and torque-driven models used to predict and understand lower limb behavior following stroke. A new addition to our lab is the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to determine the cortical pathways that contribute to gait abnormalities following stroke. The varied methods of investigation used in our lab are focused on the common goal of furthering rehabilitation science.

 

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