Gait (Standing and Walking)

Gait is the pattern of walking over solid ground.  One of the primary objectives of Project SMART is to restore standing and walking function to those would have lost this ability due to neural injury and disease.  The gait group is developing technologies to achieve this goal.  One of our technologies is a Smart Neural Prostheses (SNP) - orthotic hybrid.  This technology combines an orthotic hybrid, for stability, with surface FES, for muscle stimulation.  to generate a natural gait, owever, the system has to lock/unlock the joints of the brace and stimulate the correct muscle groups at just the right time.  To do this, we have done two things.  First, we have developed a human gait computer model which allows us to determine which muscles must be sequestered at which points of the gait cycle and second, developed kinematic sensors to detect where in the gait cycle the patient is.  A second technology that we are also working on is an advanced 2-channel WalkAide.  The original, sincle channel WalkAide is a commercially available device to alleviate foot-drop.  The 2-channel version will be an improvenment over the existing technology.  Finally, our most ambitious project is intraspinal microstimulation.   This project aims to develop an implantable device that will stimulate the motor neuron pools in the spine that are responsible for standing and walking and thereby generate gait in those unable to do so.  To do this, we will implant microelectrodes into the spine at the location of these motor neuron pools.  The electrodes will deliver and electrical signal that is generated by a micro stimulator attached to a vertebrae.  This stimulator will generate the correct electrical pattern to achieve gait.   Combined with the technology developments in the Embedded Recording and Embedded Electrode groups, the entire system will include the electrodes, the implanted stimulator and wireless control unit, and neural recording systems.  

Vivian Mushahwar, Ph.D.

An engineer by training (electrical), Dr. Mushahwar obtained her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Utah. Research in the Mushahwar lab focuses on many aspects such as the restoration of standing and walking [...]

Richard Stein, Ph.D.

Dr. Richard Stein received his DPhil from the University of Oxford. Dr. Stein joined the Department of Physiology at the University of Alberta in 1968 and during his 40-plus year career, Dr. Stein has spearheaded [...]

Phillip R. Troyk, Ph.D.

Dr. Troyk’s research interests cover a broad range of areas related to neuroprostheses. Neuroprosthetic devices are implantable electronic modules that interface with the biological nervous system for the purpose of compensating for deficit, or disease, [...]

Ralph-Etienne Cummings, Ph.D.

After completing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, Etienne-Cummings became a faculty member at SIUC in 1995. He moved to Johns Hopkins University in 1998.  He is also affiliated  with the Department of Electrical [...]