Switch Kit Workshop at Kindering Redmond

Steele Lab members, Mia Hoffman, and Katie Landwehr led a “Switch Kit” Workshop at Kindering in Redmond, WA.

The workshop aimed to teach Pediatric Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Educators how to use a new system we have designed with local families and clinicians for inclusive play options in early intervention. The Kindering Team also got to try a variety of adaptive switches Mia, Kate, and Alisha made. Stay tuned for more on this project.

Engineering Discovery Days 2024

The University of Washington College of Engineering re-launched Engineering Discovery Days this spring. Discovery Days has been a signature outreach event for over 100 years, providing fun and enriching hands-on experiences for students, teachers, and families from across the state. Discovery Days is also an opportunity for our community of UW Engineering students, staff, and faculty to share their passion for engineering with the next generation of innovators.

The UW Biomechanics Faculty put together an exhibit titled “Biomechanics Assemble! From Exoskeletons to Cytoskeletons” with the goal of demonstrating how we study movement and forces in humans and cells at UW.

The Steele Lab along with the Ingraham Lab hosted two booths. Each booth featured hand-on activities and games for students to engage with.

The first booth features an ensemble of exoskeletons and assistive devices, including the Biomotum Spark and 3D printed prosthetic hands.

The second booth featured two games for students to engage with, including “Myodino” using Delsys EMG sensors, and “UltraLeap Ring Sorting” VR game using the UltraLeap hand tracking technology.

In this lab, we think the human body is “The Ultimate Machine” and we were so excited to share HOW we study the human body at Discovery Days 2024.

National Biomechanics Day 2024

Last week the Steele Lab celebrated National Biomechanics Day (NBD) on April 3, 2024 at the VA Puget Sound. Mia Hoffman, Sasha Portnova, and Katie Landwehr, alongside fellow Biomechanics researchers with the Ingraham Lab, and Center for Limb Loss and MoBility (CLiMB) hosted over 75 students from a local high school.

A group of five people posing for a photo

NBD is a world-wide celebration of Biomechanics in its many forms for high school students and teachers. Steele Lab PhD student Mia Hoffman, and Ingraham Lab PhD student Annika Pfister were recently awarded a $1000 grant from the American Society of Biomechanics and National Biomechanics Day to host an outreach event for high school students focused on disability biomechanics.

Mia and Katie hosted a station on “Switch-Adapted Toys & Accessible Design”

Sasha, Annika, and Zijie hosted a station on “Myodino: Activate your Muscles”

Mia Hoffman featured on the Department of Mechanical Engineering website!


NL Zaino, Z McKee, CD Caskey, KM Steele, HA Feldner (2024) “Perceptions and experiences of first mobility aid provision for young children with cerebral palsy in the United States: a mixed-methods study”

Journal Article in Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology 

This research provides insights into the lived experiences of clinicians and caregivers of young children with CP regarding the prescription, provision, use and impact of first mobility aids, specifically ankle foot orthoses and walkers/gait trainers.

Caregiver views of impact of first orthoses (n = 8) and walkers (n = 4). Proportional bar graph depicting caregiver perceptions on the impacts of their child’s ankle foot orthoses and/or walkers on various activities.Aim: The purpose of this study was to establish and understand the provision process and impacts of first mobility aids for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in the United States – specifically orthoses, walkers and gait-trainers.

Methods: We performed a mixed-methods study including surveys and semi-structured interviews of caregivers of young children with CP (n = 10) and clinicians who work with young children with CP (n = 29). We used content analysis for the surveys and inductive coding for the interviews.

Results: Four themes emerged: (1) first mobility aids have mixed impacts and use patterns, (2) there is varied caregiver education and understanding about mobility aids, (3) clinician knowledge, consistency and connection impact care and (4) numerous access barriers exist for families, and there are still opportunities for improvement across all domains.

Interpretation: This study not only provides researchers and clinicians with an understanding of the current status of the prescription and provision process in the United States, but also offers suggestions for improvements of the process and mobility aids themselves. These results have implications for future research, mobility aid, design and the provision process of first mobility aids.