The goal of the NeuroMechanics & Biomechatronics section of biomechanical engineering is to improve the quality of life humans with a movement disorder. We develop new interventions and diagnostic techniques based on fundamental insight in (impaired) human motor control. This is accomplished through the combination of computational modelling of the neuromechanial system and experiments using techniques from system and control engineering, such as closed loop system identification. This basic research drives the development of devices to contribute to the improved diagnosis and treatment of participants with movement disorders.
The application area is in therapeutic & diagnostic robotics and assistive technologies. These foci cross many diagnostic categories, including stroke, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. Examples of assistive technologies include exoskeletons that would enable over-ground mobility in the face of paralysis or other disorders. These actuated exoskeletons have the potential to improve stability, control, energy efficiency, and act in concert with functional electrical stimulation. Therapeutic robotics are exemplified by the LOPES system, which is an exoskeleton device for gait training. The LOPES is an example of a robotic gait trainer less constrained than those currently available.
The research focus crosses many areas, including modelling, simulation, and system identification techniques. These foci are summarized by the term biomechatronics, which requires a strong theoretically framework to achieve optimal control. Optimal control would enable substitution strategies, which, in the absence of brain control, could enable better movement strategies for exoskeletons or other devices.