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"Gears of Progress" - Season 1

Episode One - Elijah Kuska: on computational biomechnics, synergies debates, and importance of education accessibility 

Dr. Elijah Kuska (TwitterGoogle Scholar profile) received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington at the Steele Lab. His dissertation is titled In Silico Techniques to Improve Understanding of Gait in Cerebral Palsy and can be accessed here. We talked about the applicability of computation biomechanics and modeling in rehab engineering, discussed synergies and the never-ending debate around them, the importance of improving accessibility in higher education, and his goals for the teaching professor position at the Colorado School of Mines.

Episode Two: Mia Hoffman: on early childhood mobility, young kids as participants, and accessibility of research for people with disabilities 

Mia Hoffman is a third-year PhD student (personal page, Twitter) at the University of Washington’s Steele Lab. Her main research motto is “Let kids be kids”, and all of her work is a true reflection of it. In just two years at UW, she has engaged in multiple projects that we discussed in this episode that focus on early childhood mobility (ride-on cars and harness systems) and the development of simple switch access toolkits to improve accessibility of toys for kids of all abilities. We also discussed the importance of qualitative research in the field of assistive tech and touched on how accessibility of research environments for people with disabilities. Mia shared a great deal of useful resources with us that are available below.

Episode Three: Charlotte Caskey: on spinal stimulation in children with cerebral palsy, fancy neuroscience, and balance between clinical research and real world

Charlotte Caskey (LinkedIn) is a fifth year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington at the Steele Lab. Her work focuses on studying how non-invasive spinal stimulation affects walking and neuromechanics in children with cerebral palsy. In this episode, we discussed her road to where she is now, the opportunities the non-invasive spinal stimulation brought to the field of lower-limb rehabilitation, what the hopes for it are in the research and rehab communities, and how to strive for the balance between research in clinical settings and outside world. More on the spinal stimulation work can be found below.

Episode 4: Fatma Inanici: on spinal stimulation to restore hand function, wonders of noninvasive interventions, and research differences across the world.

Fatma Inanici, MD, PhD, is a research faculty at the University of Washington, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Inanici served as a physician-scientist until 2013 and has been focusing solely on research since then. Dr. Inanici develops innovative and novel treatment strategies in neurorehabilitation, mainly using electrical spinal cord stimulation. Her work aims to restore function, improve independence, and promote the participation of people with movement disorders through a combination of rehabilitation principles, neuroplasticity, and neural engineering practices. Currently, her research interests include non-invasive electrical spinal cord stimulation to restore sensorimotor function in people with spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain.

Release Date: January 12, 2024

Episode 5: Kim Ingraham: on personalized controllers for lower-limb assistive robotics, powered mobility devices for kids, and a path to faculty positions.

Prof. Kim Ingraham is an Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UW. She is affiliated with UW CREATE (Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences) and is a core faculty member of the AMP Lab. Prof. Ingraham directs the (yet-to-be-named) Ingraham Lab, focused on advacing human mobility using assistive robotic devices, such as exoskeletons, prostheses, and powered wheelchairs.

Prof. Ingraham has an interdisciplinary training background, and has earned degrees in Biomedical Engineering (BE 2012, Vanderbilt University) and Mechanical Engineering (MS, PhD 2021, University of Michigan). She was a CREATE postdoctoral fellow in Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. Prior to beginning graduate school, she worked as a Research Engineer at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago).

In her past professional and doctoral research, Prof. Ingraham has developed and evaluated physiologically-inspired control systems for a variety of assistive devices, including powered lower-limb prostheses, robotic exoskeletons, and powered wheelchairs for young children with disabilities. Prof. Ingraham was an NSF graduate research fellow, and received Honorable Mention for the 2021 Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Research at the University of Michigan.

Release Date: January 26, 2024


Special Episode 1: Seattle Adaptive Sports

Release Date: January 26, 2024


Episode 6: Jessica Zistatsis, MS, Project Manager at Orthocare Innovations, LLC: on pediatric exoskeletons, R&D industry, and user acceptance of assistive tech.

Release Date: February 9, 2024


Special Episode 2: RESNA's guidelines and priorities for assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering research

Release Date: February 16, 2024


Episode 7: Alyssa Spomer, Ph.D., Clinical Scientist at Gillette Children's: [TBD]

Release Date: February 23, 2024


Episode 8: Nataliya Rokhmanova: [TBD]

Nataliya Rokhmanova is a PhD Student in the joint program between Carnegie Mellon University and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. She is co-advised by Dr. Katherine J. Kuchenbecker in the MPI Haptic Intelligence Department and Dr. Eni Halilaj in the CMU Mechanical Engineering Department. She is a US National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. 

Nataliya's research centers on helping humans improve the way they walk. She combines technical methods from musculoskeletal biomechanics and haptics in order to develop systems for gait biofeedback. She believes that a mechanistic understanding of the human body can help slow the progression of diseases such as knee osteoarthritis, and that the next generation of wearable devices can enable individualized precision treatment and inform clinical decisions. 

Nataliya received her MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she was advised by Dr. Eric Rombokas. In her thesis, Sensory Feedback in Lower Limb Prostheses, she developed a haptic feedback system for below-knee amputees, and characterized sensory nerve remapping after a targeted muscle reinnervation surgery. Nataliya received her BSc in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University.

In her free time, she helps organize CMU's yearly National Biomechanics Day event for introducing high school students to STEM and biomechanics and is one of MPI's Internal PhD Representatives

Release Date: March 8, 2024