Research

The Neuromechanics Lab focuses on the control and neuromechanical properties of the upper extremity after a central or a peripheral injury, such as a stroke or an amputation. Specifically, we focus on the following research topics: the neural control of arm/hand, electric neural activation, and neural rehabilitation.

Neural Control of Arm/Hand

We use non-invasive high-density grid recording and processing techniques to understand the muscle activation patterns at the macro level (muscle or muscle groups) and at the micro level (individual motor units).

Spatial activation of extensor digitorum muscle, and individual motor unit action potentials with energy distribution

 

We also decode the descending neural drive sending from the brain to the muscle in offline and real-time manners using advanced source separation techniques, in order to 1) understand neural control of muscle activation, and 2) improve the performance and user experience in human-machine interactions.

Decoding neural drive based on motor unit decomposition and probability of populational motoneuron firings

Electric Neural Activation

We develop non-invasive electrical stimulation techniques to activate peripheral sensory or motor nerves. We use precisely controlled electric current to activate a selective number of nerve fibers, which can elicit localized natural haptic sensation and evoke dexterous hand movement. The research can help develop closed-loop control of prosthetic arms, and can also improve arm/hand function in individuals with neurological disorders.

Selective haptic sensations elicited through electrical stimulation of the sensory nerves

 

Electrically elicited hand grasp patterns: power grasp, single finger flexion, handle grasp, and 3-finger pinch

Neural Rehabilitation

We develop rehabilitative/assistive techniques using wearable robots combined with electrical stimulation to improve arm/hand function (reaching, grasping, and object manipulations) in individuals with neurological disorders.