The SoftHand Pro is a team science project with Arizona State University and the Italian Institute of Technology to convert a robotic hand into a myoelectric prosthesis for patients with upper extremity limb loss.
Research participant who has partial paralysis uses the exoskeleton to walk. The lab is evaluating the mobility and therapeutic benefits of exoskeleton use.
Epidural spinal cord stimulation
Research participant performs rehabilitation exercises with epidural stimulation. This approach aims to restore volitional function.
The Assistive and Restorative Technology Laboratory of Kristin D. Zhao, Ph.D., in the Mayo Clinic Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center assists people with various disabilities achieve a better quality of life and reduce the burden of injury or disease.
The lab's research focuses on upper extremity health in individuals with osteoarthritis and spinal cord injury using innovative imaging techniques such as fluoroscopy, 4-D CT and ultrasound. Dr. Zhao's team also studies interventions such as exoskeleton use and epidural stimulation for patients with spinal cord injuries and biofeedback as an intervention for patients with spina bifida. The lab also continues to collaborate on development of an upper extremity myoelectric prosthesis prototype.
The lab's research focuses on the development of assistive technologies across the life span, as well as the integration of novel technologies to address issues such as spinal cord injury, upper limb loss, osteoarthritis and neuromuscular diseases. Additionally, Dr. Zhao's team is interested in including analyses of sex differences and alleviating health disparities, while addressing important translational questions.
The laboratory personnel consists of students, postdoctoral fellows, therapists, kinesiologists and engineers working in teams to solve important clinical problems. Additional clinicians — physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists and registered nurses — from the departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Orthopedic Surgery, Neurologic Surgery, and Radiology, as well as basic scientists from the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, also participate in targeted projects.