Zelik Lab for Biomechanics & Assistive Technology

Research

Active Areas

Biomechanics of Human Locomotion

We seek to develop a deeper understanding of biomechanical mechanisms underlying legged locomotion by studying how humans move and why we move the way that we do. One theme that pervades our research is a strong emphasis on a multi-scale biomechanical understanding of movement – connecting whole-body dynamics to joint- and segment-level kinetics, then connecting this understanding to underlying muscle-tendon mechanics. We then work to translate these biological insights into bionic devices that better interface with and augment human movement, in order to restore mobility to individuals with disabilities and to enhance human capabilities beyond natural biological limits. Recent/ongoing projects in the lab include studying multiarticular (multi-joint) muscle biomechanics, exploring neuromuscular adaptations during barefoot and shod gait, quantifying the effect of footwear on walking and running performance, and employing ultrasound imaging to discern muscle-tendon dynamics during human movement.

Lower-Limb Prosthetics

There are over 1 million individuals with lower-limb amputation living in the U.S., and millions more worldwide. These individuals experience a variety of mobility-related challenges that restrict quality of life, make daily activities more difficult and which put individuals at increased risk for degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis. We aim to develop knowledge and prosthetic technology that can help lessen these burdens and improve health and mobility for individuals with lower-limb amputation. Recent/ongoing studies include developing innovative new ways to attach prosthetic limbs to the human body to improve force and power transmission, quantifying the soft tissue dynamics of the residual limb inside the prosthetic socket, investigating the use of powered and semi-powered prosthetic limbs to help reduce incidence of falls amongst this population, and exploring the benefits of toe joint dynamics in prosthetic feet.

Exoskeletons, Smart Clothing & Wearables

Over 30 million Americans live with physical disabilities or neurological impairments that jeopardize their mobility and quality of life. Innovative human augmentation devices could dramatically improve the health and mobility of these individuals, but only if properly designed and integrated with the human body. Furthermore, even for healthy individuals, human augmentation technologies could be developed to enhance their capabilities beyond normal biological limits, which could improve productivity and reduce workplace injuries. Our lab is interested in the ubiquitous challenges associated with integrating technology (exoskeletons, smart clothing and other wearable orthoses) with the human body to augment movement. Recent/ongoing studies include studying the physical human-exoskeleton interface dynamics, developing new ways for comfortably integrating assistive technologies with the body, developing wearable sensor systems that can monitor musculoskeletal loading and injury risks, and creating and testing wearable assistive devices (e.g., smart clothing, exosuits) that aim to enhance performance, reduce fatigue and prevent injuries due to physically-demanding tasks (e.g., repetitive lifting, prolonged leaning, walking or running).

 

Curious To Learn More?

Glance through our recent Publications, Conference Abstracts/Presentations, or check out this photo album entitled “A Day in the Life” or this 2-minute video about what biomechanics means to us.