Desai, Fermuller, Westlake awarded MPower seed grant for 'GraspVis'

ISR-affiliated Professor Jaydev Desai (ME) and Associate Research Scientist Cornelia Fermuller (UMIACS) are teaming with Assistant Professor Kelly Westlake of the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine's Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science on a UM Research and Innovation Seed Grant.

Their project, "A robotic grasping and vision (GraspVis) system for stroke rehabilitation," will develop a camera-assisted, portable, robotic exoskeleton with a custom-designed glove and active assisted hand flexion and extension capability (GraspVis) to assist and improve affected hand function in subjects with stroke. The unique training and assistive system proposed will modulate the amount of force needed for grasping based on the user force feedback and represents the first lightweight, portable device to allow multi-joint motion of the hand.

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term neurological disability and number one reason for seeking rehabilitative services in the US. Of the 2.5 million stroke survivors, impaired hand function is one of the most frequently persistent consequences of stroke. While the importance of rehabilitation to help restore hand function through adaptive neuromotor mechanisms is well recognized, most therapies aimed at specifically reversing motor impairments fall short. Key principles of motor learning and associated brain plasticity support repetitive, task-specific practice to reduce impairment and restore function. The challenge is to translate these principles to clinical practice and to transfer skills learned in the clinic to real world activities. The GraspVis system will address these needs.

About the UM Research and Innovation Seed Grant Program
This program promotes structured collaboration between the University of Maryland's College Park and and Baltimore campuses, and advances the institutions' joint goals in research and innovation. In particular, it fosters creative teams of investigators working across disciplinary boundaries and campuses; supports new research foci and the underlying basic science to pursue future health care improvements and/or technologies; and stimulates submission of innovative basic and translational science research proposals to federal, public or private funding agencies.

Projects include but are not limited to those in the fields of personalized medicine, bioinformatics, bioengineering, complex therapeutics, health care optimization, public health informatics, health information technology and health science research. The 2013 seed grants via MPowering the State are each worth up to $75,000.

Published September 1, 2013