October 27, 2022

PM&R Researchers to to study a new, non-powered, wearable gait rehab device for stroke rehabilitation

Despite significant advancements in post-stroke treatment and rehabilitation interventions, loss of independent community ambulation remains one of the most disabling consequences of stroke. With a new $344,843 Phase I grant from the STTR Program with the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Dr. Krishnan and his team (Michigan Medicine: Dr. Edward ClaflinDr. Claire Kalpakjian, and Dr. Alyssa Portelli; Wayne State University: Dr. Edward Washabaugh) will partner with Elite Athlete Products (www.thenewgait.com) to study a new, non-powered, wearable gait rehab device for stroke rehabilitation.

Collage of photos featuring the NewGait device being developed and studied by researchers at The University of Michigan

The STTR grant award expands the work performed at Dr. Chandramouli Krishnan’s Neuromuscular and Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory (NeuRRo Lab) housed within the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. The NeuRRo Lab aims to develop effective and efficient rehabilitation methods for individuals with neurological and orthopedic disorders.

“A key issue in stroke rehabilitation is the lack of availability of low-cost, lightweight devices that can be easily taken home to improve therapeutic dosage—an important component for recovery after stroke,” said project lead Dr. Chandramouli Krishnan, Associate Professor of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationMichigan RoboticsBiomedical Engineering, and School of Kinesiology. Dr. Krishnan is also a faculty in the U-M Robotics InstituteMichigan Neuroscience Institute, and the University of Michigan-Flint Physical Therapy Department.

Most commercial gait rehabilitation systems often require uninterrupted power sources, which is a significant barrier for rural communities in developing nations. Thus, there is a critical need for non-powered technologies for rehabilitation.

“The NewGait® system is a natural fit for this need, as it is a non-powered, wearable gait rehabilitation system. Hence, we are interested in exploring this as a method to restore gait function in individuals with stroke," Dr. Krishnan said.

However, the current NewGait® device is not tailored to stroke-specific needs, and the clinical utility has not been verified experimentally. The Phase-I STTR grant will allow the research team to address these gaps by developing a stroke-specific low-cost gait rehabilitation system based on end-user feedback and musculoskeletal modeling.

“Our team is uniquely qualified to perform this research, as we have experts in biomedical and mechanical engineering, stroke rehabilitation, biomechanics and modeling, clinical trials research, and human-centered design. We also are working with a world-class rehabilitation hospital,” said Mr. Adeeko, Founder & CEO of EAP.

The project team at Michigan Medicine includes Drs. Chandramouli Krishnan (Physical Therapist, Biomechanist, Neuroscientist, and Roboticist), Edward S. Claflin (Physiatrist and Stroke Physician), Claire Kalpakjian (Biopsychosocial Scientist and Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychologist), and Alyssa Portelli (Clinical Physical Therapist). The team also includes Dr. Edward P. Washabaugh (Biomedical Engineer, Biomechanist, and Roboticist), an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Wayne State University.

Dr. Krishnan hopes that the project will result in a low-cost system for post-stroke gait rehabilitation and will lay the foundation for developing an evidence-based rehabilitation system that could positively affect the lives of millions of stroke survivors across the globe.

The project is funded by NIH grant R41-HD111289, “NewGait: A Low-Cost Rehabilitation System to Improve Post-Stroke Gait.” The mission of NICHD is “to lead research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all.”