|Robert Kirsch, Ph.D.
Interim Chair, Professor
My research focuses on the mechanics and control of human movement with the goal of restoring functional movement to people with disabilities.
In this work, I study the properties of the intact body to determine basic mechanical properties and to understand how the nervous system normally controls movement. I also study individuals with neurological disorders such as spinal cord injury to determine how we can restore movements using electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles (FES), or surgical procedures such as muscle tendon transfers. Recent applications also include work with providing commands to advanced prosthetic arms and hands.
Current projects to achieve these goals include:
- Studying new ways for users to provide commands to a rehabilitation technology, including recording from retained muscles and recording from the brain using brain-computer interfaces.
- Developing advanced feedback control algorithms
- Designing and building new implantable medical devices to record nerve activity from the periphery, position, and orientation
- Recording patterns of muscle activations in people who have amputations to seamlessly provide commands to advanced prostheses
Our group uses several scientific and engineering techniques to study these issues, including computer-based modeling of the human arm, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic controllers, robotics and haptic feedback devices, virtual reality simulations, advanced feedforward and feedback control theory, system identification, and dimension reduction.
My research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wallace A. Coulter Foundation, and the Army Telemedicine and Technology Research Center.