Northwestern University

Mon 12:00 PM

Dr. B.J. Fregly: Neuromusculoskeletal modeling and rehabilitation robotics: Two great tastes that taste great together

When: Monday, January 29, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Sky Lobby Auditorium, 10th floor, 355 E. Erie, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Tommi Raij, MD, PhD   312.238.4401

Group: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Research Seminar Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Rehabilitation robots hold significant promise for maximizing recovery of lost function caused by neurological impairments such as stroke. However, to date, robots have not produced functional gains that are markedly better than those achieved by traditional therapy. While rehabilitation robots can be used to deliver precise movement prescriptions, they do not provide a means for designing treatments that target the neural control deficits of a particular patient. In contrast, neuromusculoskeletal models have recently advanced to the point of being able to design personalized treatments that target an individual’s neural control deficits, but models provide no way of implementing treatments. These two observations lead to “The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Effect,” where combining two traditionally separate fields – rehabilitation robotics and neuromusculoskeletal modeling – has the potential to produce better outcomes than what either field could achieve separately. Muscle synergies are the proposed common element for tying these two fields together and facilitating a personalized treatment design process. This talk will focus on the use of personalized neuromusculoskeletal models controlled by personalized muscle synergies to design personalized control algorithms for robotic exoskeletons used in neurorehabilitation. The four sections of the talk will be: 1) The Current Robotic Rehabilitation Paradigm, 2) The Proposed Robotic Rehabilitation Paradigm, 3) What Robots Can Do for Models, and 4) What Models Can Do for Robots.


B.J. Fregly received his Bachelor's degree from Princeton University (1986) and his Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University (1987 and 1993) in Mechanical Engineering. Following a year of post-doctoral research in France at the University of Lyon (1993-1994), Dr. Fregly worked as a software developer in Silicon Valley for Rasna/Parametric Technology Corporation (1995-1999). From 1999 to 2017, he served on the faculty of the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida, where he was a Knox T. Millsaps Professor, a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, and the recipient of departmental and college Teacher of the Year awards. In August of 2017, Dr. Fregly joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University as a Professor and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. His research focuses on modeling, simulation, and optimization of the human neuromusculoskeletal system to optimize the treatment of movement-related disorders. He has been the PI on over $11 million in research funding from NSF (including a CAREER Award), NIH, NASA, and most recently the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). His most recently funded project involves the design of customized surgical plans and 3D printed pelvic implants that maximize post-surgery walking ability in individuals with a pelvic sarcoma.

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