Baby Steps: Neuroprosthetic Options for Standing, Walking and Seated Balance and Mobility after Paralysis

Date(s) - 04/11/2016
3:00 pm

Ronald Triolo, Ph.D. Executive Director, VA Advanced Platform Technology Center, Senior Research Career Scientist, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Professor of Orthopaedics & Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University

Sponsored jointly by the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering & the NIH T32 Training Grant in Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration

The paralysis resulting from Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) or other Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders such as stroke and multiple sclerosis can be a costly, debilitating and life-altering condition.  The immobility and lack of sensation following SCI can compromise almost every organ system, and impair the ability to perform even the most basic daily functions such as dressing, bathing, toileting and exerting control over objects in the environment.  This increases the reliance on family members or paid assistants and can remove opportunities to access physical spaces or engage in personal, educational, professional or recreational activities usually indicative of an engaged and productive lifestyle.  Technology exists today that can provide options to prevent or reverse the physical changes secondary to paralysis, promote general health and well-being, and intrinsically enable individuals with SCI to independently complete many activities of daily living.  Surgically implanted neural prostheses developed by Case Western Reserve University and the Department of Veterans Affairs have given persons immobilized by CNS disorders new options for exercise and independent movement through the power of contractions of their own otherwise paralyzed muscles.  Implanted systems that excite the intact peripheral nerves with small electrical currents to coordinate the actions of multiple muscles or end organs have enhanced the abilities of several dozens of individuals at our Center to work, play, self-care and participate more fully in society.  Neural stimulation technologies are beginning to enable individuals paralyzed by SCI to exercise, stand independently, reach and manipulate objects, transfer from surface to surface, walk short distances in wheelchair inaccessible environments, more efficiently propel manual wheelchairs or recumbent cycles, assume healthy seated postures and remain stable even in the presence of internally generated or externally applied disturbances that might cause potentially injurious falls.  This lecture will address the technical and clinical challenges inherent in designing and deploying such assistive technologies.

Short Bio:

Ronald J. Triolo received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University, Villanova PA in 1980, and MS degrees in both Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia PA in 1982 and 1984, respectively, as well as a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering for the design and clinical testing of an actively powered and myoelectrically controlled above knee prosthesis for transfemoral amputees in 1986.  Dr. Triolo was Director of Research at the Philadelphia Unit of Shriners Hospitals from 1986 through 1994 he where he investigated neuroprosthetic and neurotherapeutic uses of electrical stimulation for children with motor dysfunction due to spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy.  Dr. Triolo is currently a tenured Professor of Orthopaedics and Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and a Senior Career Scientist with the Rehabilitation Research & Development Service of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.  He is the Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Platform Technology of the Department of Veterans Affairs where he oversees the design, prototyping and production of novel medical devices and neural interfaces for the rehabilitation of individuals with sensorimotor impairments or limb loss.  He also directs the Motion Study Laboratory of the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center where he pursues research in the development and clinical application of neuroprostheses and restorative technologies, limb prosthetics and orthotics, dynamic exoskeletons, musculoskeletal biomechanics and the control of human movement, rehabilitation engineering, and the assessment of assistive technology.  Dr. Triolo has authored over 115 peer reviewed journal articles, 250 conference abstracts, 12 book chapters and 6 patents.  He currently leads independently funded research programs sponsored by the NIH, VA, DoD and DARPA to restore or enhance the upright and seated mobility, posture and balance in individuals with neuro-musculo-skeletal disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, and to restore natural sensation to lower limb amputees with surgically implanted neuroprostheses.