Robotic Neck Brace Dramatically Improves Functions of ALS Patients

A novel neck brace, which supports the neck during its natural motion, was designed by Columbia engineers. This is the first device shown to dramatically assist patients suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in holding their heads and actively supporting them during range of motion. This advance would result in improved quality of life for patients, not only in improving eye contact during conversation, but also in facilitating the use of eyes as a joystick to control movements on a computer, much as scientist Stephen Hawkins famously did.

A team of engineers and neurologists led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine, designed a comfortable and wearable robotic neck brace that incorporates both sensors and actuators to adjust the head posture, restoring roughly 70% of the active range of motion of the human head. Using simultaneous measurement of the motion with sensors on the neck brace and surface electromyography (EMG) of the neck muscles, it also becomes a new diagnostic tool for impaired motion of the head-neck. Their pilot study was published August 7 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

See full media coverage here.

July 19, 2019

Dr. Ji-Chul Ryu, a PhD graduate from our lab, was promoted to an Associate Professor with Tenure

Dr. Ji-Chul Ryu has been recently promoted to an Associate Professor, with tenure, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University.  He earned his PhD degree in 2009 from our lab and joined NIU in 2013. His research interests include integrated planning and control of autonomous robotic systems, its application to mobility assistive robots, and robotic dynamic manipulations. Our sincere congratulations!!


August 05, 2019

Dr. Agrawal to lead as the editor-in-chief of a new journal "Wearable Technologies" published by Cambridge University Press

Wearable Technologies is the first journal dedicated to publishing original research and industrial developments related to wearable devices. Wearable technologies have a role in areas such as rehabilitation, industry, environment/exploration, injury prevention, military, diagnostics, animals, sport and leisure and this journal aims to connect research from all areas of wearable technologies. 

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