Ain’t It Cool?

It may be 90 degrees outside but in here we’re thinking cool: Cool technology from the NIDILRR community? We’re fortunate to be a pert of a community that works on some of the latest technology supporting the independence and participation of people with disabilities. NIDILRR projects conduct research and development in rehabilitation engineering, assistive technology, application development, and integrating technology into home, school, and work. Here are just a few examples of cool tech from the NIDILRR community:


Robots! What’s not cool about robots! Several projects work on robotic technology, from exoskeletons to prosthetics to therapy tools:

Machines Assisting Recovery from Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury for Reintegration into Society (MARS3) has an objective to broaden the use of robotic devices for therapy and assistance. Specifically, the center explores new approaches that improve functional outcomes during reach-and-grasp and full body locomotion activities such as: robotic activity mobility center in a fitness center, multi-user training environments for in-home therapy, exoskeletons for walking after spinal cord injury (click to see a video of an exoskeleton in action), wheelchair-based robotic upper extremity exercise and power assisted propulsion, and wearable robots for fall prevention. Learn more about the MARS3 project and the work completed under two previous cycles.

The Timing Investigation Dosage Implementation (TIDI) Rehab Engineering Research Center (RERC) is trying two answer two questions to help clinicians integrate robotics into therapy: How do we distribute the therapy episodes provided by robotic systems over time? How do therapists interact with robotics devices when these devices are delivering the therapy often with minimal hands-on treatment coming from the clinician? Therapists and clinicians who are integrating robotics into their stroke rehabilitation practice need to know how to utilize this technology to support the best recovery for stroke survivors. Learn more about the TIDI project and its activities.

Technologies to Evaluate and Advance Manipulation and Mobility RERC focuses on technology for holding, grasping, and mobility. This includes exoskeletons for stroke recovery and body-powered prosthetics. See the range of technology from the TEAMM RERC.

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training in Pediatric Mobility for Physicians and Engineers project is training up the next generation of therapists and engineers. Learn more about the fellowships.

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wearable Robots for Independent Living is so new, it doesn’t even have a website yet! Researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Kessler Foundation will work with commercially-available lower extremity exoskeletons to support rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury and stroke, as well as home-based robotic rehabilitation for people with upper-extremity limitations after stroke. We’re really excited to see what these folks are doing!

Cloud computing

Everything’s moving to the cloud, but what if you can’t access it? Several projects are working on cloud computing and ubiquitous web technology, and making sure these technologies are accessible to all:

The project on Inclusive Cloud and Web Computing conducts research and develops methods to enable software providers to easily and rapidly implement inclusive user experiences so consumers are empowered to fully participate in cloud and web systems. Learn more about what the inclusive cloud project is researching and read abstracts of their research.

The RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology Access is working on a global public inclusive infrastructure (GPII) designed to make assistive technologies  and other access solutions available for many more users, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively. See demos of this technology in action!

CaptiNarrator, developed under several NIDILRR Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, is an any-where, any-time browser that will read aloud just about any electronic document. Newspaper, book, magazine, report, you name it. You can use it across multiple devices (phone, tablet, computer) and platforms. It’s great for people with print disabilities (blindness, low vision, dyslexia) but also great for people on the go! Capti recently partnered with Project Gutenberg to bring tens of thousands of classic books to readers everywhere. Sign up for Capti!


What if you could have a physical or occupational therapy session without leaving home? What if your local, small town clinic could “loop in” a world-class neurorehab specialist from the big city? This is promise of telerehabilitation: Bringing rehabilitation and recovery to more people in more places.

The RERC on Telerehabilitation focused on methods, systems, and technologies to support consultative, preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic interventions to improve and promote telerehabilitation for individuals who have limited access to comprehensive medical and rehabilitation outpatient services. The project held a State of the Science conference and publishes an International Journal of Telerehabilitation. See the resources from this recently-completed RERC.

The Mayo Clinic’s Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Center is addressing the need for specialist TBI care using communication technology in the CONNECT trial. Learn about CONNECT and the promise of telemedicine for TBI.

These are just a few examples of the cool research and development activities taking place at NIDILRR-funded centers and projects across the country. To learn more about current and previously funded projects, please visit the NIDILRR Program Database (hint: browse through the Technology for Access and Function priority).

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6 Responses to Ain’t It Cool?

  1. Pingback: [WEB SITE] Ain’t It Cool? | TBI Rehabilitation

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