My research interest is to understand and challenge the plasticity of the brain and to determine if robotic technology can alter an existing pathway to help a neurologically impaired person to change it’s current pathway to achieve a more functional gait pattern.
I am currently working with the Ekso robotic exoskeleton with neurologically impaired people who are suffering brain injury from CVA, TBI, and eventually SCI. The interest is to determine, by using the Zeno walkway and other standard measures, if using the robotic device, which only allows a certain gait pattern, will alter the impaired gait and create a new pathway for a more functional gait pattern.
I am also interested in studying the perception of verticality in these people whose sense of “being centered” is altered. The robot gives feedback and allows the participants to know when they have reached lateral and anterior targets. This, in turn, allows them to correct their posture and sharpen the sense of laterality. I would like to study if this can reorganize the brain to sense the true vertical position.
As I use the robotic device with different types of neurological injuries, I see more avenues to research and learn. My goal is to be able to develop a program in which these injuries can be corrected and treated, thus allowing for a more functional and less compensational gait.