Research in the UW BADGER Lab aims to understand the mechanisms of physical impairment after orthopedic and neurological injury. We use this knowledge to develop devices and protocols that improve assessment, promote rehabilitation, and/or provide assistance.
Advanced Lower-Limb Prostheses
Lower-limb prosthetic devices are developing rapidly, from passive, springlike feet to bionic, human-interactive robotic ankles. We seek to develop a new class of ankle-foot devices that retains the benefits of passive systems (low weight, height, complexity, and cost) while adding simple robotic features that improve versatility and adaptability across tasks.
Wearable Sensors and Interventions
One of the major challenges in rehabilitation is proper assessment of individuals’ motor performance. We are working to develop novel uses of wearable sensors to perform these assessments during everyday tasks in real-world settings outside the laboratory.
We are also developing wearable tendon tensiometry systems with the UW NMBL, and working to create assessments and real-time interventions based on these measurements.
The power of robotic therapy is the ability to specify novel tasks that encourage patients to relearn proper motor patterns, while preventing harmful compensatory movements. We are developing robotic exercise equipment that can deliver adaptive, high-dose therapy targeting patient-specific motor impairments following injury. The initial focus of this work is on neuro-rehabilitation of lower-limb control following stroke.
Development of devices and therapies requires a strong theoretical framework that addresses the links between neural and biomechanical performance in movement. We study a variety of topics in locomotion neuromechanics, including: metabolic energy expenditure during locomotion and exercise; biomechanical loading and joint coordination; control of balance and balance recovery; mechanisms and consequences of impairment; dynamic properties of the human biomechanical system; and responses to therapies and assistive devices.
Biomechanical studies of humans and animals inspire technological solutions to the challenge of mobility. We use biomimetic robots, such as the rimless wheel robot Torsobot (here walking past its relatives Rando and Moonwalker), to investigate fundamental properties of movement in ways that cannot be studied in humans. We also investigate different forms of wheeled mobility to understand how they can help robots move more efficiently, safely, and effectively.