Focus Areas

The Mayo Clinic Assistive and Restorative Technology Lab studies and collaborates on multiple areas of research interest.

Motion imaging data acquisition for musculoskeletal diagnosis and guided treatment

In collaboration with Paula M. Ludewig, Ph.D., P.T., from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Zhao's team is using fluoroscopy, CT and shape matching techniques to significantly advance the existing infrastructure for motion imaging and analysis of musculoskeletal disorders in Minnesota, subsequently advancing clinical diagnosis and treatment.

Development of a biofeedback intervention to reduce the risk of upper extremity overuse injury after paraplegia and tetraplegia

The research of Beth A. Cloud, Ph.D., D.P.T., contributes to the Mayo Clinic Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center and involves research to determine effective strategies for prevention and modification of detrimental movement patterns in people who use wheelchairs for mobility. The lab delivers an individualized biofeedback-based intervention using kinematic, kinetic and visual information during activities of daily living to assess risk of shoulder and wrist injury pre- and post-intervention.

Evidence for maintaining mobility and quality of life for manual wheelchair users

The lab, in collaboration with Melissa (Missy) M. Morrow, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Department of Health Sciences Research and the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, has an additional area of research focus that involves a novel study to measure the frequency of multiple activities of daily living during everyday life using inertial measurement units. The lab then combines the measured exposure data with measured risk of subacromial impingement. This information will bring the field a step closer to understanding which activities pose the greatest risk of supraspinatus impingement based on extrinsic and overuse factors.

Epidural spinal cord stimulation to restore volitional function after chronic paralysis due to spinal cord injury

The Assistive and Restorative Technology Lab, in collaboration with the research team in the Neural Engineering Laboratory of Kendall H. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., is carrying out an epidural stimulation pilot project. The goal of this project is to replicate a previous study, which demonstrated restoration of volitional function in four people with chronic spinal cord injury. The collaborative team will implant epidural stimulators onto the dorsal aspect of the lumbosacral spinal cord dura mater of two patients. Patients will undergo a structured program of physical rehabilitation, standing, treadmill step training and epidural stimulation in an effort to recover motor, sensory and autonomic function.

Kicking behavior in infants with spina bifida after in utero and postnatal surgery: A novel approach for assessment of surgical efficacy and design of evidence-based intervention strategies

Together with Nicholas M. Wetjen, M.D., and Dave Chapman, P.T, Ph.D., of St. Catherine University, and with support from the Mayo Clinic Children's Research Center, the lab assesses early kicking behaviors — including alternating knee and leg kicks — using novel activity monitors prior to the development of walking in infants with spina bifida who have had in utero or postnatal surgery, and in typically developing infants. The long-term goal is to develop an early rehabilitation intervention for infants with developmental concerns.

Ambulatory and nonambulatory benefits of lower limb exoskeleton use, with and without functional electrical stimulation, in clinical and community settings

In collaboration with Michael Goldfarb, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt University, and the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, the lab will employ a lower limb exoskeleton to assess the mobility and therapeutic benefits resulting from exoskeleton use with and without cooperative functional electrical stimulation in a clinical setting. The team will also assess therapeutic benefits, utility and compliance of lower limb exoskeleton use in the home and community.

From robotic hand to prosthesis prototype for upper extremity limb loss

Together with the teams of Marco Santello, Ph.D., of Arizona State University, and Antonio Bicchi, Ph.D., of the Italian Institute of Technology, the Assistive and Restorative Technology Lab is involved in the conversion, testing and modification of an upper limb prosthetic prototype, the SoftHand Pro, which is based on a biologically inspired robotic hand. Additional research is being conducted to develop various-sized prostheses and implement haptic feedback for patients with limb loss to improve satisfaction with the device.