Jessica Allen, Ph.D.Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology
Rehabilitation interventions for retraining mobility are currently limited by a lack of understanding of the neuromuscular mechanisms that lead to observed mobility impairments. My work aims to identify principles of how the nervous system coordinates muscles to interact with the environment for successful mobility and how this breaks down in individuals with mobility impairments (e.g. due to aging, stroke, or Parkinson’s disease). In this talk, I will demonstrate how the combination of laboratory-based human motion analysis and computer-based musculoskeletal modeling techniques can be used to identify the causal relationship between neuromuscular control and the biomechanical output required for mobility. I will highlight recent work demonstrating that studying multiple movement behaviors (e.g., walking and balance) is critical to identify impairments limiting overall mobility performance. I will also present novel metrics that characterize differences in neuromuscular control across the spectrum of impairment to expertise that can be used to evaluate changes with rehabilitation. This work has important implications for the development of new rehabilitation and robotic interventions and improving patient screening to enhance mobility re-acquisition.
Jessica Allen is currently an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA postdoctoral fellow in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Through both computational and experimental techniques, her work aims to identify principles underlying the interaction between the neural, muscular, and skeletal systems that can inform interventional decisions in rehabilitation and device design to improve mobility outcomes.
Host: Dr. Michael Scott