Neuromuscular Research Laboratory: Scott Bickel, Ph.D., is the director of this facility that is located within the Spain Rehabilitation Center. The lab contains all necessary equipment for in vivo, human neuromuscular performance testing. Equipment includes: customized leg extension machine to assess both isometric or dynamic muscle strength, surface EMG, force and electrogoniometry recording systems, load cells, and electrical stimulators. Interests include studying both central and peripheral mechanisms of muscle fatigue; optimizing electrical stimulation parameters in an effort to reduce the degree of muscle fatigue that often occurs with electrical stimulation; and assessing neuromuscular performance before and after training programs in special populations.
*Past and current funding received from both private foundations and the National Institutes of Health.
Interactive Simulation (iSim) Lab: Under direction of Cali Fidopiastis, Ph.D., the facility is part of UAB’s Virtual Rehabilitation and Medical Modeling & Stimulation research area in the School of Physical Therapy. The research focus of the lab is to study human performance within naturalistic environments simulated using state-of-the-art computer graphics. Bridging the gap between basic and applied research, the iSIM lab employs devices such as near infrared imaging (fNIR), electroencephalography (EEG), and other portable, unobtrusive psychophysiological measures such as eye tracking to answer questions about brain plasticity and information processing in real world settings for clinical, educational, and military applications. The goal is to translate the findings into efficacy measures for therapy and products that improve quality of life today. Other related areas of study include specifying best practices in enabling technologies design, improving learning through brain-based theory, and understanding dynamical neural systems to improve brain-computer interface design.
The iSim lab includes a mixed reality testbed featuring a chroma-key video capture area, which can deliver augmented virtuality experiences that simulate every day places. An Augmented Cognition closed-loop testbed is also available to study brain state changes related to learning. Currently the lab is developing a hybrid brain-computer interface for military training and creating virtual environments to study food choice behavior for various patient populations.
Human Performance Laboratory:Laboratory capabilities include assessments of neuromuscular, metabolic, cardiorespiratory, and functional performance, as well as the use of exercise interventions into research endeavors. Also available is technology for assessing sensitive measures of force and power performance. A summary of major laboratory equipment includes: a Biodex mulit-joint dynamometer, a custom-built muscle performance data acquisition system, a Cosmed metabolic measurement system, an electromyography system, one treadmill, five cycle ergometers, four weight training machines, and free weights. Current research projects supported by the laboratory include the Frequency of Aerobic/Resistance Training in Older Women and the Evaluation of an Oral Nutritional Supplement Containing a Derivative of Leucine in Malnourished and Frail Subjects.
Motion Analysis Lab:This lab is designed to assess movement (kinematic and kinetic) and functionally related changes and functional changes in adult mobility and balance. The lab has 2 AMTI force plates and 8 camera VICON motion analysis system.
Locomotor Control and Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory: David A. Brown, PhD is the director of this facility located at 516 20th Street South. The research focus of this lab is directed towards the understanding of neuromusculoskeletal control during active movement in individuals post-stroke. Studies seek to understand the underlying control mechanisms of poor locomotor control and to develop quantitative evaluation and intervention tools for the amelioration of locomotor and balance deficits post-stroke. Experimental approaches include measurement of electrical muscle activity, lower limb force and movement trajectories, and electro-physiological reflex testing during locomotor movement such as walking and pedaling.
This lab is also focused on the development of novel apparati useful for rehabilitation. Two examples include a tilt-cycle ergometer used to measure, during pedaling tasks, weakness in paretic muscles, limb loading capability, speed of movement, lateral balance stability, and rhythmic muscle activity and a new collaborative robotics system, the KineAssist MAX, a gait and balance system. This system allows the study of balance and postural responses to challenging functional tasks such as stairs, stepping over objects, and forward/backward pushes.
Past and current funding received from the Foundation of Physical Therapy, Veteran’s Association, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the National Institutes of Health.