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North Car­olina State Uni­ver­sity and
the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina at Chapel Hill
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News Bits

The Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer­ing Core (REC) is a joint enter­prise between two of the best uni­ver­si­ties in North Car­olina; North Car­olina State Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina at Chapel Hill.

The strat­egy for the Core is to build onto the med­ical strengths of UNC-​Chapel Hill and the engi­neer­ing know-​how of NC State. This ini­tia­tive of the Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing at North Car­olina State Uni­ver­sity and the School of Med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina is a state tech­ni­cal assis­tance, edu­ca­tion and research cen­ter that eval­u­ates, designs, devel­ops, and pro­motes improved care and func­tion for indi­vid­u­als with short and long term reha­bil­i­ta­tion needs.

Recent Publications

Recent Hap­pen­ings

Two Mem­bers of Dr Helen Huang’s Lab have abstracts accepted for the BMES 2015 Annual Meet­ing in Tampa Fl.

Under­grad­u­ate, Matthew Conrad’s abstract has been accepted for a poster pre­sen­ta­tion within the track “Ortho­pe­dic and Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer­ing”
Abstract Title: An Inves­ti­ga­tion of the Pos­i­tive Joint Power Dis­tri­b­u­tion in Above-​Knee (AK) Pros­the­ses
Authors: Matthew Con­rad, Ming Liu, Gre­gory Saw­icki, He Huang

Post­doc­toral Scholar, Dustin Crouch’s abstract has been accepted for a poster pre­sen­ta­tion with the track “Device Tech­nolo­gies and Bio­med­ical Robot­ics”
Abstract Title: Opti­mized Mus­cu­loskele­tal Para­me­ters For Pre­dict­ing Multi-​Joint Wrist And Hand Move­ment From Lim­ited EMG Sig­nals
Authors: D. Crouch, H. Huang

May 10, 2015 –Dr. Greg Sawicki’s research fea­tured in the Sun­day edi­tion of the Raleigh News and Observer. The arti­cle fea­tures his work on Ankle Exoskele­tons and how the can effec­tively reduce energy spent dur­ing walk­ing. This sub­stan­tial energy sav­ings can be extremely ben­e­fi­cial to some­one recov­er­ing from Stro­ker or other mus­cle impair­ments as they go about their every­day activ­i­ties. As Dr. Saw­icki explained “A seven per­cent reduc­tion in energy cost is like tak­ing off a 10-​pound back­pack, which is sig­nif­i­cant,” Please click here to read the arti­cle in its entirety.

BME fac­ulty Dr. Gre­gory Saw­icki’s co-​authored paper, “Reduc­ing the energy cost of human walk­ing using an unpow­ered exoskele­ton,” was pub­lished online in Nature on April 1, 2015. The pub­lished results show that humans can get bet­ter gas mileage using an unpow­ered exoskele­ton to mod­ify the struc­ture of their ankles, thereby reduc­ing meta­bolic energy con­sump­tion by 7 per­cent below walk­ing in nor­mal ath­letic shoes. The light­weight lower-​leg device uses a spring and clutch sys­tem work­ing in tan­dem with calf mus­cles and the Achilles’ ten­don while peo­ple walk. It weighs approx­i­mately the same as a nor­mal shoe and does not require bat­tery power or other exter­nal fuel source. “The unpow­ered exoskele­ton is like a cat­a­pult. It has a spring that mim­ics the action of your Achilles’ ten­don, and works in par­al­lel with your calf mus­cles to reduce the load placed upon them,” said Dr. Gre­gory Saw­icki, an NC State bio­med­ical engi­neer and loco­mo­tion phys­i­ol­o­gist who co-​authored the paper. “The clutch is essen­tial to engage the spring only while the foot is on the ground, allow­ing it to store and then release elas­tic energy. Later it auto­mat­i­cally dis­en­gages to allow free motion while the foot is in the air.”

Dr. Saw­icki co-​authored the paper with Dr. Bruce Wig­gin, a for­mer NC State grad­u­ate stu­dent, along with Dr. Steven Collins from Carnegie-​Melllon Uni­ver­sity. To read more click here.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Dr. Helen Huang
Direc­tor of the Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer­ing Core (REC)

Please join us in offer­ing Pro­fes­sor Helen Huang your warmest con­grat­u­la­tions on her recent appoint­ment as the direc­tor of the Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer­ing Core (REC) at NC State and UNC. The REC, like BME itself, unites the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina and NC State Uni­ver­sity in order to encour­age and engen­der ground­break­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive sci­ence between the two insti­tu­tions. The Co-​Interim Direc­tor of the Cen­ter, Dr. Rick Wysk, com­mented that Dr. Huang is the “per­fect per­son for this oppor­tu­nity.” Louis Martin-​Vega, the Dean of NC State’s Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing, in addi­tion to offer­ing his con­grat­u­la­tions, noted that he “looks for­ward to her lead­er­ship in this very spe­cial and unique effort in our Col­lege!” With her inno­v­a­tive research in the cre­ation of neural-​machine inter­fac­ing tech­nolo­gies, Dr. Huang is per­fectly posi­tioned and qual­i­fied to lead the Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter as it con­tin­ues to pros­per and grow. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Helen on this excit­ing new step in her career!


The North Car­olina State Uni­ver­sity Office of the Provost announced on Novem­ber 22, 2013 that Dr. Greg Saw­icki will be one of the 20132014 Uni­ver­sity Faculty Schol­ars. Dr. Saw­icki was one of seven total nom­i­nees that the Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious awards — the most that the col­lege was allowed to nomi­nate for the pro­gram. Pro­fes­sor and Dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing, Louis Martin-​Vega, noted that the award was very well deserved and offered his sin­cere congratulations.

The Uni­ver­sity Fac­ulty Schol­ars pro­gram was estab­lished in 2012 to reward excel­lence in early– and mid-​career fac­ulty at NCSU. To meet eli­gi­bil­ity require­ments, fac­ulty mem­bers must be assis­tant pro­fes­sors who have been reap­pointed for a sec­ond term, asso­ciate pro­fes­sors, or full pro­fes­sors in their first three years serv­ing at that rank. The pro­gram was designed as an effort by the uni­ver­sity to invest in and retain high qual­ity fac­ulty mem­bers; it is funded through dona­tions by Jim and Ann Good­night and William R. Kenan Jr. Char­i­ta­ble Trust. With this award, Dr. Saw­icki will hold the title of Uni­ver­sity Fac­ulty Scholar and receive a $10,000 annual sup­ple­ment for the next five years to enhance his already out­stand­ing work. Although only in its sec­ond year, Dr. Saw­icki will be BME’s sec­ond fac­ulty mem­ber to receive this promi­nent honor. Please join all of BME in offer­ing Dr. Saw­icki our sin­cere con­grat­u­la­tions on this well-​deserved recognition!

To read more about the 20132014 class of Uni­ver­sity Fac­ulty Schol­ars, please see the announce­ment on NCSU’s Bul­letin.


Dr. Greg Sawicki’s work was recently high­lighted in the Novem­ber 14thissue of Nature. This cita­tion, from a jour­nal in its 503rd vol­ume of pub­li­ca­tion with a long­stand­ing his­tory of excel­lent sci­en­tific jour­nal­ism, is a notable exter­nal recog­ni­tion of the suc­cess­ful work emerg­ing from Dr. Sawicki’s research pro­gram. The arti­cle by Peter Gwynne, part of a sup­ple­ment all about the spine, overviews the state of robotic exoskele­tons which give mobil­ity to peo­ple with spinal cord injuries. The arti­cle notes that Dr. Sawicki’s work with ankle plan­tarflex­ors offers an inno­v­a­tive approach to regain move­ment for some patients who can stand but not walk after spinal cord injuries. By cre­at­ing an elas­tic solu­tion that extends the foot at the cor­rect time dur­ing step­ping, Dr. Sawicki’s work offers a way to facil­i­tate move­ment that falls out­side of com­plex and bulky robotic exoskeletons.

To read about Dr. Sawicki’s work and all the excit­ing devel­op­ments at the inter­sec­tion of spinal cord reha­bil­i­ta­tion, robot­ics, and exoskele­tons, read the full arti­cle, “Tech­nol­ogy: Mobil­ity Machines,” on Nature’s web­site: http://​www​.nature​.com/​n​a​t​u​r​e​/​j​o​u​r​n​a​l​/​v​503​/​n​7475​_​s​u​p​p​/​f​u​l​l​/​503​S​16​a​.​h​t​m​l

BME Under­grad Jef­frey Pow­ell Fea­tured on WUNC Radio

“In case you missed it, there was a great inter­view on WUNC radio with BME senior Jeff Pow­ell, who made a 3-​D printed hand for local 7 year old boy Holden Mora. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Jeff for doing such a great job to help Holden, and this really shows the pos­i­tive impact that we can have as biomed­ical engi­neers on the lives of other peo­ple. Jeff also did a great job in the inter­view, although I have to admit that Holden steals the show“shares Richard Gold­berg, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor in the Joint Depart­ment of Bio­med­ical Engineering.

The inter­view and story are here:

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