CENTER FOR BIOMECHANICAL & REHABILITATION ENGINEERING, CBRE
The CBRE investigates human mobility, including balance, posture and gait, for unimpaired as well as impaired populations. This a state-of the art research and education space is equipped with the following:
- A Tekscan Walkway System used to measure individual’s ground reaction forces needed to assess standing balance and gait
- A Vicon Motion Capture System, used to measure subject’s body kinematics/movements
- A NaviGAITor system for subject partial body-weight support and safety from falls; The NaviGAITor at UDC is one of only two that exists nationwide
- A Delsys surface electromyography (or sEMG) used to measure muscle activity/response to determine postural strategies/muscle synergies
- Open Bionics prosthetic hand for upper limb amputees
The mission of the CBRE is: 1) to seek new knowledge tied to human balance and mobility for a wide array of populations and 2) to provide meaningful experiential learning and hands-on research training to equip and prepare a diverse demographic of students for the biomedical engineering workforce.
- To facilitate UDC becoming a premier institution specializing in biomedical engineering research, education, and training tied to biomechanical and rehabilitation engineering
- To explore research and create solutions (devices and designs, training and methodologies) tied to human mobility, specifically gait and balance
- To seek new knowledge tied to gait and balance in a wide range of populations (e.g., aging individuals, survivors of stroke, able-bodied individuals)
- To initiate new and strengthen existing UDC collaborations with institutes, hospitals, and Universities tied to biomedical engineering
- Via research, to bolster the educational infrastructure tied to the UDC biomedical engineering program
- To provide students meaningful, hands-on experiences which merges scientific and applied research with education
- To expose and enlighten students and prospective students, a particular focus is placed on underserved and underrepresented minorities, to biomedical engineering tied to human mobility
- To obtain sponsorship for and produce results tied to biomedical engineering research projects from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and others
The CBRE was conceived and created by Dr. Lara Thompson who joined UDC as a faculty in Fall 2013. As a new faculty and new Ph.D. graduate, she was tasked with and given the opportunity to start a brand-new biomedical engineering research laboratory and biomedical engineering degree program, each completely from scratch.
With equipment procured predominantly from NSF awarded grants, the CBRE was opened in Summer of 2015. Since then, the laboratory has attracted multiple sponsored projects from NSF, NIH, DACL, NASA, DOD and others and trained a diverse body of student researchers with various backgrounds tied to biomedical engineering, biology, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical & computer engineering, and computer science.
In parallel, the creation of the new biomedical research facility complemented the University initiative to build a new biomedical engineering program, also spearheaded by Dr. Thompson. The biomedical engineering program was full-board approved in Fall 2014, Department of Education approved in Spring 2017, had its first graduate in Summer 2019, and became the first, and presently only, ABET-accredited BS in Biomedical Engineering program at a HBCU nationwide in 2021.
TEKSCAN WALKWAY SYSTEM
The Walkway system is used to measure footplate force and pressure data needed to assess standing balance and gait. The system includes an 8-foot walkway (equipped with force sensors) and Tekscan software. The software assesses patient movements by generating gait tables (e.g., velocity, steps/min, cadence), raw force data, video, footplate pressure mapping, and other data.
VICON MOTION CAPTURE SYSTEM
The Vicon motion capture system is an infrared marker-tracking system that utilizes ten cameras around the perimeter of the capture volume. The equipment is outfitted with infrared (IR) optical filters, IR light emitting diodes (LEDs), and a set of reflective markers. The reflective markers are arranged on the body of the subject, and reflect the IR radiation emitted by the LEDs. The Vicon software system is equipped to interact with the camera automatically. The software then processes the images taken from the cameras to construct a three-dimensional representation of the markers. This allows for images, videos, and kinematic analysis of the human subjects during movements (e.g., standing balance and gait). The system is shown below.
The NaviGAITor is an ambulatory suspension and rehabilitation apparatus developed by Devdas Shetty (Dean of SEAS). This relatively new device is being used for both clinical and research applications. UDC is home to 1 of only 2 NaviGAITor systems that exist nationwide. The NaviGAITor system (shown below) can be used in physical therapy and treatment for patients with muscle weakness, and neurological or musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. This system enables exercise and allows movement training in all three planes of motion without risk of injury due to falls. The operation of the entire system can be directed manually or automatically.
DELSYS SURFACE ELECTROMYOGRAPHY (SEMG) SYSTEM
The CBRE Lab is equipped with a wireless Delsys surface Electromyography (sEMG) system (shown below). Surface EMG is a non-invasive technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity of skeletal muscles. Surface EMG assesses muscle function by recording muscle activity from the skin surface above the muscle. The EMG signals can be analyzed to detect muscle activation level and synergies, which allows interpretation the biomechanics of human posture.
OPEN BIONICS PROSTHETIC HAND
The Open Bionics, Inc. prosthetic hand is a 3D printed hand that is controlled by actuators, which move each individual finger. For control of the prosthetic, robotic hand, an Arduino programming environment and ATMEGA 2650 microcontroller are used.
PHAS GENERATION 1 PROTOTYPE
The Portable Harness Ambulatory System (PHAS) Generation 1 Prototype was constructed from a design produced by UDC’s Mechanical Engineering faculty and students. The main concept behind the PHAS Generation 1 was to allow user to operate the device on their own (e.g., to lift oneself from a seated position, such as wheelchair to standing position). The purpose of this prototype is to aid individuals who suffer from balance impairments by enabling them to exercise in their home environment.
Principal Investigator, PI
Dr. Lara Thompson