Other Tech4Pod initiatives In addition to the work overseen by Dr. Gerald Harris, other Marquette researchers are taking lead roles in Tech4Pod projects. Dr. Brian Schmit, a biomechanical engineering professor, is tracking the brain activity of children with cerebral palsy. Some patients have hamstring-lengthening surgery, in which the hamstring muscle/ tendon is cut in a way that allows it to better stretch out. Others have a surgical
Shriners measure the forces applied as
close to thresholds of acute injury at the
a subject walks — Harris and his team
shoulder joint, depending on what their
hope to help prevent fractures in OI
patterns look like,” Harris says.
patients by modifying children’s activities
Harris also is studying children with
and designing better assistive walking
flatfoot who have had implants, hoping
devices to absorb forces.
to improve treatment planning and post-
“It’s really cutting-edge,” Harris says.
transfer of wrist tendons to help restore muscle function. The team measures patients’ brain activity before surgery and tracks how that activity changes as patients go through robot-assisted rehabilitation exercises after their procedures. Researchers are looking for signs that patients’ central nervous
“And what it means to us is we hope to
The research being carried out by
be able to take a child with OI, do a couple
Harris and the rest of the Tech4Pod team
of assessments, and then be able to
requires the participation of families like
longer-term outcomes by influencing the
prescribe safe activities that would
the Wacasters, who hope to contribute
development of central nervous system
increase their sports, their physical
to something that helps other kids in
tracks,” Harris says.
function, their integration with their
peers and community, their mobility — and, ultimately, their quality of life.” Researchers also are studying cases of
systems are adapting. “It means you might be able to impact
The project involves developing robotic
“There was so little research in
therapy devices that patients could use at
this area,” says Lillie’s mother, Priscilla
home. Schmit is leading the development
Wacaster, who also has OI. “And how you
of a device for lower-body therapy. Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt, an assistant
severe clubfoot, a congenital condition
walk, how you play, how you interact
that causes an infant’s foot to turn inward
with people — this is everyday stuff. The
and downward. Clubfoot often is treated
surgeries are important, but the orthotics
with corrective casts. By analyzing the
in your shoe make a difference in how
tissue of deformed feet and the types of
you walk, which makes a difference in
move inside the foot as a patient walks.
casts used to correct them, Harris and
how you go to school. It’s affecting your
The system would be significantly more
his team hope to identify treatments that
accurate than the current method of using
best keep the condition from recurring. Another part of Harris’ research focuses on studying the strain children
Lillie, fortunately, has a more mild
professor of biomedical engineering, is leading the development of a system that uses multiple X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of how bones
reflective sensors mounted on the outside
form of OI. And it doesn’t seem to hold
of a patient’s foot to track movement and
her back much.
could help produce better shoes and braces.
Thanks to drug treatments that help
“Not only is there no error from skin
devices. By putting sensors on crutches,
strengthen her bones, she has had only
markers now, we’re actually seeing the
walkers and wheelchairs, Harris’ team
two recent fractures: She broke her arm
bones, we’re seeing the joints, we’re
has found that such devices put consid-
after falling off her bike and broke a verte-
erable stress on a patient’s upper body.
bra when she flipped an all-terrain vehicle.
experience when they use assistive
“They’re actually loading the upper extremities to high levels and coming
Or, as she puts it, “doing normal stuff.”
seeing the articulations — and we’re seeing them inside shoes, inside braces, inside the types of footwear that might be used to modify walking patterns,” Harris says. “That’s extremely exciting for us.” Marquette University
Every spring DISCOVER: Marquette University Research and Scholarship showcases some of the most interesting research happening on Marquette'...