Developing new therapies and assistive technologies
An estimated 5 million Americans require long-term help with daily activities as a result of a stroke, spinal cord injury or muscular dystrophy.
In response, NJIT’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wearable Robots, led by Associate Professors Richard Foulds and Sergei Adamovich, is improving therapies and developing new assistive technologies to increase independent mobility and manipulation for people with neuromuscular disabilities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the center’s translational research takes discoveries in the lab and applies them to studies with individuals.
A collaborative effort with the Kessler Foundation is exploring a way to allow individuals to use their hands or “walking fingers” to control and power the walking motion of a motorized exoskeleton attached to their legs. The tactile sensation of the leg movement is then conveyed back through the hands, providing essential feedback to the user. Another project is studying the benefits of advanced robotics and virtual reality in enhancing neural learning and functional recovery of arm and hand control in people with stroke. In the words of Dr. Foulds, the center is doing “engineering that will affect people with significant limitations, that is intended to either enhance their rehabilitation or help them accommodate their disabilities so they can lead more independent lives.”