Rehabilitation, Robotics and Real-time fMRI
2/7/2013, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
James Sulzer, Ph.D., faculty candidate
Postdoctoral Researcher and ETH Fellow in the Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ)
Gait rehabilitation after stroke has limited effectiveness, and many have looked towards powered orthoses, i.e. exoskeletons, as a long-term assistive solution. My approach to exoskeletal assistance, covered in the first part of my talk, is to determine what, if any, assistance can restore proper gait for people following stroke. Together with clinicians, we intervened specifically in those with reduced knee flexion angle during the swing phase of walking, commonly referred to as Stiff-Knee Gait (SKG). We designed a transparent knee actuator to assist the impaired knee kinematics and found that frontal plane movements such as hip circumduction, supposedly compensating for the reduced toe clearance, were surprisingly exaggerated, despite the increased toe clearance. This response is reflective of typical abnormal muscle coordination after stroke. We concluded that designs of exoskeletons for stroke patients should account for neural mechanisms rather than solely focusing on biomechanics for a realizable solution for gait disability.
Lack of understanding of neural mechanisms has been cited as the primary reason that rehabilitation engineering has slowed its advance to a near standstill. Stroke is neutrally-based, yet our interventions focus almost exclusively on the limbs. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss a markedly different approach towards therapy, neural intervention via online feedback of neural activity for the purpose of self-manipulation, known as neurofeedback. Using whole brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of target brain regions involved in motor learning and control, we are currently investigating the potential benefits of volitional control of brain activation. Thus, investigating these neural mechanisms of impairment after stroke in concert with development of novel technology will reinvigorate a field on the verge of stagnation.
BIO: James Sulzer is currently a postdoctoral researcher and ETH fellow in the Rehabilitation Engineering Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ). He is investigating non-invasive neural intervention using online fMRI biofeedback, also known as real-time fMRI neurofeedback. He recently founded the organized the first international conference on this topic in February, 2012, hosting 150 attendees and dearuring talks from the top internal researchers and pioneers in the field. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwester n University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 2009, investigating pre-swing knee flexion assistance in chronic stroke survivors with Stiff-Knee gait. He obtained his masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the same institutions in 2006, developing as of, cable-driven robotic interface. At Northwestern, he led the student entrepreneurship interest group and created the first NU business plan competition, first university-wide research fair, and currently the flagship course at the university, an interdisciplinary medical device design course known at NUvention. He received his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (summa cum laude with distinction) from the Ohio State University in 2002.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
4:00 ñ 5:00 p.m., 5326 Stevenson Center
Refreshments at 3:40 - 4:00 p.m. in the Student Lounge Olin Hall