The Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab at Rice University has been developing robotic devices, objective assessments, and control architectures for upper extremity rehabilitation robots employed after stroke and incomplete spinal cord injury. In this talk, a range of techniques for ensuring appropriate challenge and active engagement of the participant in therapeutic interventions with robotic devices will be discussed. Objective measures of motor impairment can provide frequent feedback to the participant regarding their performance during therapy. Control architectures can require initiation or sustained input from the user in order to generate desired movements. Further, controllers can be designed to adapt to the user’s changing capabilities, which may be dependent on position or direction of movement. Results from a variety of ongoing clinical evaluations will be discussed in relation to these topics. These research efforts embody the collaborative, interdisciplinary nature of my group’s research in biorobotics, haptics, neural engineering, and robotic rehabilitation.
Marcia O’Malley received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1996, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1999 and 2001, respectively. She is currently Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Computer Science at Rice University and directs the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Additionally, she is the Director of Rehabilitation Engineering at TIRR-Memorial Hermann Hospital, and is a co-founder of Houston Medical Robotics, Inc. Her research addresses issues that arise when humans physically interact with robotic systems, with a focus on training and rehabilitation in virtual environments. In 2008, she received the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University. O’Malley is a 2004 ONR Young Investigator and the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2005. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.