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!

 

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

ISB 2019 Recap

Five members of our lab – Kat, Michael, Alyssa, Megan, & Nicole – attended ISB 2019 in Calgary, Canada. The International Society of Biomechanics promotes and supports international contacts amongst scientists, the dissemination of knowledge, and the activities of national organizations in the field of biomechanics.

Four individuals stand in hallway smiling at conference.

Our work at the conference included:

Kat Steele: ISB presentation on in-clinic EMG monitoring for muscle activity and movement in acute care in the initial days after stroke.
Michael Rosenberg: ISB poster showcasing how individuals’ kinematics and muscle activity change in response to ankle exoskeleton stiffness during acceleration from standing. ISB presentation on open-loop modeling of response to ankle exoskeleton torque during walking.
Alyssa Spomer: ISB poster highlighting how motor control is impacted when typically developing individuals emulate cerebral palsy gait patterns. ISB poster on understanding how individuals can alter motor control expression using visual biofeedback.
Megan Auger: ISB presentation on how muscle coordination strategies in typically developing children and children with cerebral palsy are not accurately captured using standard musculoskeletal modeling optimization algorithms in computer simulation.
Nicole Zaino: ISB presentation on spasticity reduction via rhizotomy in children with cerebral palsy and how there was no significant difference in the change in energy consumption when compared to a control group of children with cerebral palsy who had no rhizotomy.


TGCS 2019

Additionally, two members of our lab – Michael & Megan – attended TGCS 2019 in Canmore, Canada prior to ISB 2019. The Technical Group on Computer Simulation (TGCS) is a scientific and technical meeting for investigators and students in all areas of computer simulation in biomechanics. This group was a highly-focused subset of the ISB community, primarily focusing on forward simulation of unimpaired and pathological gait patterns, but also touching on multi-scale simulation, diving, cycling, and wheelchair use. 

A mountain view in Canmore, Canada with sharp jagged peaks and a bright blue lake.
Michael standing in the front of a room in between two screens giving a presentation.
Michael Rosenberg: TGCS presentation on Dynamic Mode Decomposition for modeling response to ankle exoskeletons during gait.

US Patent Office Visit

Patent examiners spend their days critically evaluating the latest innovations, to determine if they are useful, novel, and non-obvious. When one of our students asked them what daily life is like as a patent examiner they responded, we basically write a 10-15 page report every 2-3 days.

Thankfully the patent office lets them escape from behind their computers a few times a year to meet with companies, research labs, and other entities. These visits help them see what is new and exciting in their specialty area.

We were lucky enough to host one of these teams this past week in the AMP Lab. Tim Stanis, a primary examiner from Art Unit 3786 that specializes in exoskeletons, orthoses, passive motion rehabilitation devices, and biomechanical technology led the visit. He was joined by nine other examiners.

One of the patent examiners in a red checkered shirt answers students questions. He is seated at a table with hands clasped in front of him.

Our lab demoed our latest creations in orthoses, biofeedback systems, and smartphone sensing. Patrick Aubin from the VA Hospital, Murray Maitland from Rehab Medicine, Chet Moritz from Electrical Engineering, and Tapo Bhattacharjee also shared their latest work.

We ended the session with a Q&A Panel for summer students to learn about career opportunities as a patent examiner and advice for new innovators. Most of the examiners had an undergraduate or master’s degree in engineering. They emphasized that working for the patent office is a great, flexible career path. As a patent examiner they are able to work remotely, have flexible hours, and enjoy other benefits such as having law school paid for.

Students listen attentively to the Q&A Panel. Some look bored, some look amused, and one is even taking notes, or maybe doodling!

For new innovators, they emphasized the importance of understanding the patent landscape. They recommended using Google Patents! Patents can seem intimidating. They recommended starting with the pictures and focusing on the claims. They also emphasized the importance of having a team. Translating technology requires team members with technical, business, and clinical backgrounds.

For our part, we were excited to meet real, live patent examiners. We appreciated seeing their faces and enjoyed sharing our work with them.