Congratulations – Damon Ding is awarded UWIN’s Innovation Undergraduate Fellowship in Neuroengineering.

Portrait photo of young man wearing black glasses, navy sweater and white button-up undershirt in front of a tan wallOur undergraduate student, Damon Qilang Ding, has been awarded the Innovation Undergraduate Fellowship  the UW’s Institute for Neuroengineering. The UWIN Fellowship provides funding for Damon to conduct research in his upcoming quarters and is a highly prestigious and selective competition. Congratulations, Damon!

Damon’s research is to lead a fabrication, assembly, and tuning of a dynamic walking bipedal robot, which will serve as a testbed for validating the Ability & Innovation lab’s simulation framework evaluating whether discrepancy modeling with data-driven approaches enables more accurate dynamic solutions of bipedal movement with both unaltered and altered control.

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.

Jessica Zistatsis awarded CoMotion Innovation Fund grant

We are proud to announce that our very own Jessica Zistatsis has been awarded the CoMotion Innovation Fund grant. Jessica’s application process included market research, customer surveys, a lean canvas, and a 10 min pitch to a panel of investors. The CoMotion Innovation Fund will provide $40,000 to support research along with $10,000 for business development assistance through UW CoMotion.

jessicazThis award will support clinical trials with 10 kids with CP trying PlayGaitTM in Spring and Summer 2017 along with two quarters of Research Assistant support.

Jessica also just filed for a provisional patent.
Congratulations, Jessica!

Perry Initiative: Inspiring future female engineers and orthopaedic surgeons

Seattle Children’s Hospital hosted the Perry Initiative this weekend to inspire women to pursue careers in engineering and orthopaedic surgery. Dr. Jacquelin Perry was one of the first ten women orthopaedic surgeons in the country and has been a mentor to countless women and men throughout her career. She is known for her work quantifying human movement using tools such as motion analysis, electromyography, and ultrasound. She developed new surgical procedures including methods to straighten spines and inventing the ‘halo’ to immobilize the spine, neck, and head.

Learning to fix bones with external fixation at the Perry Initiative.This weekend, 25 women from local high schools, joined surgeons and engineers at Seattle Children’s to learn about common medical tasks and cutting-edge medical technology. They tried their hand at casting, suturing, external/internal bone
fixation, and rotator cuff repair.

From the Perry Initiative: “Engineers and orthopaedic surgeons work hand-in-hand to develop safe and effective implants for repairing broken bones, torn ligaments, and worn-out joints. Strong partnerships between surgeons and engineers are essential for improving the performance of orthopaedic implants and creating solutions to unmet clinical needs.”

We agree! Here’s to many future collaborations with diverse teams of engineers and surgeons.

Making Accessible Makerspaces

Maya Cakmak from computer science brainstorms the ideal wallet design.This week a team of our faculty and undergraduate students (3 research students from the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and 6 scholars from the UW DO-IT program for teens with disabilities) took on the challenge to help make makerspaces more accessible. 

Many engineering departments, libraries, and universities are launching new initiatives to create makerspaces, physical spaces where students, faculty, and the broader community can gather and share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. In creating these innovative spaces we should consider principles of universal design to ensure the spaces, tools, and community are accessible to as many individuals as possible.

As one of our participants told us, accessibility of makerspaces is especially important because:

Makerspaces are often used to help build new assistive technology and increase accessibility; however, many of these spaces and tools remain inaccessible. We need to make sure disabled people can access these spaces and create the products and designs that they actually want.

The students toured the UW’s CoMotion Makerspace before completing a prototyping challenge to design the ideal wallet. Students worked in teams of two and dove into our challenge which focused upon both teaching need-based, human-centered design while also giving students the chance to get messy, test out tools, and create. The groups came up with some great insights into how wallets could be improved and prototyped some creative designs. Through this activity we also learned about some of the challenges in the space, tools, and design activity:

  • Students loved the moveable tables and flexible workspace – this let everyone find a comfortable and inviting space to create.
  • Individuals with visual impairments also said they like the flexible workspace, but also highlighted that it was great that tools were in specific, fixed locations. These individuals emphasized that they build mental maps of a space and, although it is fine to have equipment on wheels, it helped knowing the tools, 3D-printer, laser cutter, etc wouldn’t change locations.
  • In the design activity, sketching to share ideas was challenging for some of the participants. Having a diverse set of prototyping tools like clay, cardboard, etc can help to quickly share ideas.

We’ll be taking the feedback from these students and integrating with feedback from faculty, staff, and other community members to help create guidelines and best practices for accessible makerspaces. Stay tuned!