The Neurobionics Lab is part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Additionally, Dr. Rouse is a core faculty member of the Michigan Robotics Institute.
The mission of the Neurobionics Lab is twofold. Firstly, we seek to answer fundamental questions about human locomotion through a deeper understanding of how limb mechanics are felt and regulated by the nervous system. These properties are important because they govern how people respond to disturbances during gait, such as unexpectedly stepping on an obstacle, or carefully walking over uneven terrain. Moreover, the ability to regulate these mechanics is drastically impaired following neurological injury. As a result, impaired individuals fall more frequently, fatigue faster, and have abnormal gait patterns that inhibit daily life. The more we understand about how the brain controls the body during locomotion, the better we can assess, track, and treat the changes that occur following neurological injury.
The second mission of the group is to develop technologies that address the deficits that arise from neuropathologies and amputation. We leverage biomimetic design and control approaches to develop novel wearable robotic systems. Our intent is to not only address the locomotor deficits of these individuals, but also enable them to exceed the performance of their able-bodied counterparts. Our approach is unique: the biomechanical science that we discover is used to develop a new class of assistive technology. Through interdisciplinary, bidirectional feedback between science and engineering, the Neurobionics Lab conducts innovative work that will eventually impact the lives of the disabled.