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Spring 2021 GRASP SFI: “Optimizing Orthoses: Challenges in predicting human performance”

March 31 at 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Abstract: Innovations in hardware and control have created a new class of orthoses or exoskeletons to augment and assist human movement. These designs enable forces and torques to be applied to nearly any segment of the body. However, predicting how an individual will adapt their movement in response to external assistance remains incredibly challenging. These predictions are challenging for unimpaired individuals, let alone for individuals after neurologic injury, such as in cerebral palsy or stroke. Even for a “simple” case such as single degree-of-freedom ankle foot orthoses, we often fail to predict how a given device will alter or improve an individual’s movement. In this seminar, we will discuss these challenges as well as new methods that may assist in optimizing orthoses after neurologic injury. In particular, I will discuss how machine learning can help us to learn from past prescriptions, while also using musculoskeletal modeling, muscle synergy analysis, and ultrasound imaging to quantify neuromuscular adaptations and inform orthotic design.

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Kat Steele

University of Washington

Kat M. Steele, is the Albert S. Kobayashi Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington. She leads the Ability & Innovation Lab, which integrates dynamic musculoskeletal simulation, motion analysis, medical imaging, and device design to understand and support human mobility (steelelab.me.uw.edu). She earned her BS in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. To integrate engineering and medicine, she has worked in multiple hospitals including the Denver Children’s Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. For her research and innovations, she has been awarded a Career Development Award in Rehabilitation Engineering from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation CAREER Early Faculty Development Award, and the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award. In 2020, she co-founded and serves as Associate Director of CREATE (create.uw.edu), the Center for Research & Education on Accessible Technology & Experiences with partners from industry and academia in engineering, rehabilitation medicine, disability studies and information sciences supported by an inaugural $2.5 million investment from Microsoft. She is also the co-founder of AccessEngineering (uw.edu/doit/accessing), an NSF-supported program that supports individuals with disabilities to pursue careers in engineering and trains all engineers in principles of universal design and ability-based design to create more inclusive products, environments, and experiences.


March 31
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Event Category:


General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab