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WeHab: Biofeedback-Enhanced Stroke Rehab using the Wii

About the series

Note:  the title of the talk was updated.  Everything else remains the same.

James Schmiedeler, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Notre Dame


An engineer, a computer scientist, and a psychologist walk into a rehabilitation clinic carrying a video game system. Rather than the beginning of a bad joke, this is an apt description of a Smart and Connected Health research project. Stroke is a major health problem affecting nearly 800,000 Americans annually and necessitates novel scientific approaches for prevention, treatment, and restorative care. The aftermath of stroke includes profound balance disturbances, and restoring balance through rehabilitation can make the critical difference between returning home or requiring long-term care.  These factors have significant quality of life and financial implications for stroke survivors and their families. Modern gaming peripherals represent a low-cost means of providing quantitative visual feedback to therapists and patients during balance rehabilitation activities. Implementing a low-cost strategy reduces barriers to adoption in clinics and patient homes. Optimizing visual feedback for balance training is of paramount importance, but requires improved fundamental knowledge in this domain. This project seeks to better understand the science of how: 1) Different types of feedback affect subjects during standing balance activities, 2) Additional feedback during such activities affects interactions between patients and therapists, and 3) Data collected during such activities can be used to optimize therapy for improved functional outcomes. The project has particular focus on the acute phase of rehabilitation, when the patient’s recovery is most dynamic, and also focuses on weight shifting activities that provide more information than static balance tasks.


James P. Schmiedeler is the head of the Locomotion and Biomechanics Lab at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Schmiedeler's research interests fall broadly into the areas of kinematics, dynamics, and machine design, particularly as applied to the development of robotic systems and an understanding of human motor coordination. His current work focuses on biped robot locomotion, human recovery from stroke and spinal-cord-injury, robot-assisted rehabilitation, prosthetic devices, mechanical energy storage for vehicles, and the design of shape-changing mechanisms. His work is roughly balanced between experimental and theoretical activities.

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