University of Texas at El Paso

Laboratory for Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation

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Current and Recent Projects:

Human Gait Analysis and Modeling:

One of the primary focuses of this group is the use of intelligent systems to analyze normal and pathological human gait. In particular, we make use of soft computing techniques to develop intelligent software systems capable of diagnosing gait impairments. Recent work includes the use of fuzzy logic to automatically detect human gait phase transitions and fuzzy logic-based detection of non-impaired gait patterns.

Current work includes refining the rule bases from previous work using genetic algorithm, using an instrumented treadmill and motion capture facilities to collect experimental gait data. This data will be used to further develop the intelligent gait analysis systems and to form a database of healthy human gait for a wide variety of subjects.

Thread track Frame

Skeleton


Space Countermeasures:

Astronaut Training in Virtual Space

Photo courtesy of the International Space Station

The purpose of this project is to collaborate with Boeing to investigate space-based neuromotor rehabilitation for astronauts. During long-term space flights, astronauts develop a number of neuromotor impairments that require rehabilitation upon return to earth. Our goal is to model and improve the current treadmill-based exercise strategies and to develop novel devices for neuromotor impairments.

In the short-term, this work is focusing on the modeling of astronaut treadmill exercises. In particular, we seek to further understand and model the current subject loading/positioning mechanisms employed by the astronauts.

 

 

 

 

Neuroplasticity and Gait Rehabilitation:

Neural plasticity is an intrinsic property of the human brain and represents evolution’s invention to enable the nervous system to escape the restrictions of its own genome and thus adapt to environmental pressures, physiologic changes, and experiences. It is the mechanism for development and learning, as much as a cause of pathology. Dynamic shifts in the strength of preexisting connections across distributed neural networks, changes in task-related cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical coherence and modifications of the mapping between behavior and neural activity take place in response to changes in afferent input or efferent demand. Such rapid, ongoing changes may be followed by the establishment of new connections through dendritic growth and arborization. The challenge we face is to learn enough about the mechanisms of plasticity to modulate them to achieve the best behavioral outcome for a given subject.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy:

Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, affecting >30% of the diabetic population. In the foot, peripheral neuropathy leads to dry skin and loss of the protective sensations of pressure and pain; together with reduced joint mobility, it also increases the risk of ulceration induced by unperceived minor injury from shoes and other physical trauma. There is no know cure for neuropathy, but clinical doctors are trying to find ways to prevent diabetic foot by regularly testing the sensation and pressure of the foot on diabetic patients.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the normal appropriate sensory feedback mechanism that occurs with peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients. The investigations include a detailed neurological assessment of sensory modalities (sensitivity, pressure and Ground Reaction Forces) in diabetic patient’s feet. It will provide enough quantitative knowledge for clinical doctors to predict the diabetic patients who are at risk of foot ulceration and therefore to improve the patient’s foot-care education.

Smart Gait Emulator:

Smart Gait EmulatorThe goal of this project is to develop an automated diagnostic and therapeutic device for patients with gait impairments. Currently, the rehabilitation process is labor intensive and, for many disorders, the most effective types of therapeutic intervention are unknown. Additionally, patient evaluation is often subjective, which can foil the determination of precise rehabilitation goals and the assessment of treatment effects. Current robotic gait rehabilitation systems do not have the capability to measure or support all of the joint motions required for normal gait. The smart gait emulator is intended to be a hybrid system that incorporates aspects of robot-in-the-lead and patient-in-the-lead rehabilitation strategies. The gait emulator will provide the capability to track measures of gait performance to allow for the tracking of patient performance and more objective assessments of the rehabilitation process.

 

 

 

Traumatic Brain Injury:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), or intracranial injury occurs when a sudden physical assault on the head causes damage to the brain. The damage can be focal, confined to one area of the brain, or diffuse, involving more than one area of the brain. TBI can result from a closed head injury or a penetrating head injury. A closed head injury occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, but the object does not break through the skull. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).

The restoration of healthy locomotion after stroke, traumatic brain injury, and spinal injury, is a major task in neurological rehabilitation. The purpose of this study is to conduct research to understand TBI and to improve recovery of this neurological disorder.

 


Copyright 2008