Nicole Zaino wins the ESMAC Best Paper award

Congratulations to Nicole Zaino for being awarded the ESMAC (European Society of Movement Analysis for Adults and Children) Best Paper Award. Nicole received this award at the 2019 ESMAC conference in Amsterdam, September 23-28, 2019 where she gave her talk: “Spasticity reduction in children with cerebral palsy is not associated with reduced energy during walking.” For more information, visit ESMAC.

Woman in formal attire standing behind a black and purple podium in front of a large presentation screen

Steele Lab members present their research to Seattle Young Adult Stroke Survivors (YASS)

Steele Lab members – Kat, Christina, Nick, and Momona – were invited to present their research about wearable sensors for stroke recovery and device control to the Seattle Young Adult Stroke Survivors (YASS). YASS is a support group for individuals who have experienced a stroke and creates a community to learn, listen, share, and more. Steele lab was one of the first research groups to come and share our work with them. 

Young Adult Stroke Survivors logo. Light green writing on a dark green background with a silhouette of a person climbing up boulders.

Our presentation began with background information regarding neurophysiological changes after stroke to provide insight into upper extremity functional impairments – including weakness, loss of dexterity, and abnormal tone. Wearable sensors, such as electromyography (EMG), can provide information regarding muscle function. Many of the listeners were surprised to hear that their own smartphones or watches can act as wearable sensors!

A focus of our research is detecting muscle activity early after stroke using EMG. One member recalled thinking their muscle was firing during their acute recovery but could not see any physical movement.  EMG allows us to capture that type of activity and any functional changes throughout recovery, empowering patients and clinicians to track their recovery and adjust their therapy regimen. The crowd was interested in using EMG to evaluate their own muscles, identify which were firing, and guide their rehabilitation. 

EMG not only helps us track recovery, but can be paired with consumer technology. Nick demonstrated how using muscle activity from the affected limb can incorporate rehabilitation into daily computer use. EMG signals can simulate pressing keys on a keyboard or moving a mouse cursor, making it easier for people with limited mobility to use technology. YASS members expressed enthusiasm about the increasing commercial availability of such devices so they can buy them and give them a try.

It was a great opportunity to connect with stroke survivors and hear their thoughts on wearable sensors. Thank you to YASS for having us come in and share our research!

 

ESMAC 2019: Award Finalists

Congratulations to Nicole Zaino and our colleague Mike Schwartz at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for both being nominated as finalists for the Best Presentation Award at the upcoming ESMAC Conference in Amsterdam. Their abstracts are among the top 16 submissions to the conference and the final award will be determined based upon their presentations.

Logo for the 2019 ESMAC meeting overlaid on a classic Amsterdam scene, bikes lined up on a bridge over a canal with historic buildings in the background.

Nicole will be presenting her research:

Spasticity reduction in children with cerebral palsy is not associated with reduced energy during walking 

Selective dorsal rhizotomy reduces spasticity, but does it also reduce energy consumption during walking? In an analysis of over 300 children with cerebral palsy, Nicole demonstrated that although rhiztomy does reduce spasticity, it does not reduce energy consumption. These results provide further evidence that spasticity is not a main contributor to elevated energy among people with cerebral palsy. You can also learn more about this study from our recent submitted manuscript, available on bioRxiv.

Mike will be presenting his research:

The effects of walking speed and age on energy consumption in children with cerebral palsy and their typically developing peers

We know that walking energy is high among people with cerebral palsy, and that energy varies with speed and age. Using retrospective data of over 300 kids with cerebral palsy and 150 typically-developing peers, Mike used a statistical model to evaluate these speed and age effects. He found that energy decreases until 8-10 years of age for kids with CP, while it remains stable beyond age 5 for typically-developing peers. Kids with CP also have a greater elevation in energy with greater walking speeds. These results are important to help quantify and understand impacts of interventions, like surgery or assistive devices, which are often done during this time period when kids are still growing and developing.

They will both be presenting in the Optimizing Energy Cost session from 11:40-12:30 on Thursday, September 26th.

Best of luck to Nicole & Mike!

HuskyADAPT toy hackathon event with Microsoft

Younger woman in purple giving a presentation on two projection screens in a design space while a many others wearing green shirts look on Several people, two in green shirts and one in a black shirt, listen to a young gentleman in a gray jacket as he talks about the toys in front of him

Alyssa Spomer along with HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design & Play Technology) hosted the first-ever adapted toy Hackathon with Microsoft. The event combined design and toy adaptation, as teams of HuskyADAPT students and Microsoft employees worked together to adapt toys and develop new designs for adapted toy switches and switch mounts.

Groups of people sitting around wooden tables with parts strewn about, many of them wearing greens shirts, with a younger gentleman writing on a white board with another gentleman smiling at the table and examining what he is writing  A woman wearing a orange jackets and black shirt and a man wearing a green shirt smiling while holding a toy in front of a workshop

Over 25 Microsoft employees joined 20 students, including the Steele Lab’s own Alyssa Spomer, Nicole Zaino, Charlotte Caskey, and Elijah Kuska, in the CoMotion MakerSpace for this community-focused and adaptive driven workshop.

Large group of individuals smiling in a workshop while holding toys

During the day-long hackathon, over 20 toys were adapted to incorporate a new switch mechanism to facilitate play and several new inexpensive switches, toy-type converters, and switch mounting systems were designed and prototyped.  Thank you to the Microsoft employees, for their willingness and commitment to assist those in need, the CoMotion MakerSpace volunteers, for allowing us to use their space, and our HuskyADAPT team and lab members, for their dedication to outreach events.

Research Experience Undergraduates Present at CNT

This summer the Steele Lab had the pleasure of hosting three undergraduate researchers – Robin Yan from University of Washington, Ava Lakmazaheri from Olin College of Engineering, and Katherine Chamblin from University of Washington.

After a competitive selection process, students are offered a 10-week internship here at the University to work directly with a research lab on campus. One of the program’s final deliverables is a presentation of their work, both in podium and poster format, to members of the local and scientific community. Congratulations to Robin, Ava, and Katherine for their successful time here in the lab, and for giving polished presentations.

Group of six individuals standing shoulder to shoulder and smiling in front of white wall
REU Students with their lab mentors

Robin examined biomechanical analyses of typically developing individuals during emulation of cerebral palsy gait and Ava worked on optimizing musculoskeletal models for children with cerebral palsy.

Sun shinning down on young woman in business attire talking to another woman in front of a white and purple poster board
Katherine discussing her work with an interested student

Katherine investigated social communication patterns of children with cerebral palsy and their families after integrating an early-powered mobility device