Read the latest news from the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center. The links below take you to articles where you can learn more about NUPOC and our recent achievements.

  • NUPOC Welcomes Antonia Nepomuceno

    Ms. Nepomuceno shows a thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis (TLSO) model that was created using dilatancy technology by Principal Investigator Yeongchi Wu, MD.Ms. Antonia Nepomuceno has joined NUPOC as a summer research extern who will work on prosthetics projects with Steven A. Gard, PhD, and Matthew Major, PhD. She will assist in ongoing projects that examine gait stability in upper limb amputees and prepare devices for use in human motion analysis that will be conducted in the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center Motion Analysis Research Laboratory located on-site at NUPOC.

    Ms. Nepomuceno is a rising senior at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) where she is majoring in Bioengineering with a concentration in Biomechanics. Her prior research experience includes working on mechanical prostheses at the Delft Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotics; research on renewable energy, wind power and micro hydropower at the Agricultural University of Athens; independent field research on cultural diversity and immigration in Jerusalem, Israel; and emergent behaviors of integrated cellular systems Research Experiences for Undergraduates at UIUC.

    Ms. Nepomuceno is a 2014 Whitaker International Undergraduate Scholarship recipient, and she is a repeat awardee of many other honors, including the Illinois Women in Engineering Scholarship, The President’s Merit Award, and the International Engineering Fellowship. She enjoys conducting research, especially in international settings. Mathematics is a hobby and she aspires to design a cost-effective, durable prosthetic knee, appropriate for use in developing economies. Ms. Nepomuceno is considering post-graduate opportunities in academics, research and clinical programs.
  • NUPOC Welcomes Postdoctoral Fellow, Erin Boutwell, PhD
    Dr. Erin Boutwell has joined NUPOC as a postdoctoral research fellow. She will conduct empirical testing and component development to investigate methods that potentially can enhance shock absorption within the prosthetic-side limb. Additionally, Dr. Boutwell will prepare her doctoral and postdoctoral findings for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals and present her findings at scientific conferences to both clinical and research audiences.
  • Brianne Bergeron Wins 2014 Dale Yasukawa Scholarship

    Brianne Bergeron Wins 2014 Dale Yasukawa ScholarshipBrianne Bergeron has been selected the recipient of the 2014 Dale Yasukawa Scholarship. Ms. Bergeron will graduate from the NUPOC Master’s of Prosthetics-Orthotics (MPO) program in March 2015. Ms. Bergeron will complete the P&O residency requirement in Louisiana, her home state. The Yasukawa scholarship enables students to participate in a local, annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) and to defray the cost of texts, supplies and equipment required in their graduate work.   

    A graduate of Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA), Ms. Bergeron is an avid athlete who pole-vaulted for the Women’s Track and Field team at her alma mater. As a senior at LSU, she was recognized as a scholar, volunteer and student athlete. Ms. Bergeron said, “I recognize that my responsibility is to use the blessings I have been given. Northwestern University has helped shape me as a person, challenged me to grow as a student, and enabled me to serve others.” In the future Ms. Bergeron plans to use her P&O training to conduct volunteer service work among underserved populations in developing economies.

    Learn more about the Dale Yasukawa Scholarship and the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation (OPAF) that administers and awards the Dale Yasukawa Scholarship.

  • Matthew Major, PhD, Presents Poster at WCB

    Matthew Major, PhD, attended the 2014 World Congress of Biomechanics (WCB) from July 6-11, 2014 in Boston, MA. Dr. Major presented Upper Body Kinematic Range-of-Motion and Variability of Transradial Prosthesis Users Performing Goal-Oriented Tasks. Co-authors of this poster are R Stine, C Heckathorne, S Fatone and S Gard. Specialists in medicine, biology, physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry and engineering presented and discussed recent technologies and medical devices.

    Dr. Major reported, "Research related to Prosthetics & Orthotics, specifically powered devices such as exoskeletons, was well represented. Overall, the topics were diverse and ranged from cellular level mechanics to gross body dynamics. My poster was well-received, especially by individuals who are interested in upper limb motor control." WCB is an international meeting held every four years. This year 4,000 participants attended the WCB.

  • Steven A. Gard, PhD, Selected Editor-in-Chief of JPO

    Steven A. Gard, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics.Steven A. Gard, PhD, has been selected by the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Dr. Gard begins his tenure in July 2014. A biomedical engineer with more than 20 years’ experience as an educator, researcher and editor, Dr. Gard has served on the JPO editorial board for 11 years. He also has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation; Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development; and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation. Dr. Gard said that he is committed to providing leadership that will enable the JPO to “continue to publish the best available scientific evidence that can improve orthotic and prosthetic clinical care.”

    The Academy has published the JPO for more than 35 years to promote and publicize developments in clinical practice, research, education and technology. The JPO is widely regarded as a primary source for rehabilitative healthcare professionals.

  • Erin Boutwell, PhD, Successfully Defends Dissertation

    Erin Boutwell, PhDErin Boutwell, PhD, successfully defended her dissertation, “The Effect of Systematic Variation to Transtibial Prosthesis Stiffness on Impact Loading Mechanics”, in partial fulfillment of the doctoral degree in biomedical engineering.

    Dr. Boutwell's study examined impact forces to residual limbs that can occur when individuals with amputation step with their prosthesis. Her study evaluated reduced-stiffness components in two different loading conditions: an impact drop test (similar to stepping off a curb) and a walking study. Her study examined a systematic variation of the internal spring of a shock-absorbing pylon (i.e., the reduced-stiffness component) over a range of stiffness values to yield information for future design and prescription of reduced-stiffness components.Steven A. Gard, PhD, advised Dr. Boutwell in her study and chaired her doctoral committee.

    Going forward, Dr. Boutwell will conduct research as a post-doctoral fellow at NUPOC.

  • Matthew Major, PhD, Appointed Assistant Professor

    Matthew J. Major, PhD has been appointed Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Major will conduct research, advise students and teach courses in Materials Science and Clinical Outcome Measures for the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC) Master's in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MPO) degree program.

  • Matthew Major Garners 5-Year VA Career Development Award

    Assistant Professor Matthew J. Major, PhDMatthew J. Major, PhD, was awarded a 5-year Career Development Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct studies on the sensory-motor mechanisms underlying fall risk in older veterans with lower limb amputation. Although lower limb prosthesis users are known to be at substantially increased fall risk compared to able-bodied individuals, the cause of these falls and the role that sensory-motor mechanisms play in fall risk are poorly understood.

    Dr. Major’s work will focus on identifying modifiable sensory-motor factors of older (65-85 years of age) lower limb prosthesis users to facilitate the development of targeted intervention strategies that can maximize postural control and minimize falls and fall-related injuries. As a Research Health Scientist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, IL, Dr. Major will collect and analyze his research data onsite at NUPOC, using the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center Motion Analysis Research Laboratory.  

    The results of Dr. Major’s research will facilitate exploration of therapeutic interventions for improving postural control that may be integrated into the VA system of care, development of clinical diagnostic tools to accurately assess fall risk in older veterans with lower limb amputation, inform VA prescription guidelines of current prostheses, and design future prosthetic devices that enhance functional balance.

    Another facet of Dr. Major’s Career Development Award is participation in formal P&O training, including prosthetic measurement, fabrication, fitting and alignment, as well as mentored training in clinical and translational sciences, amputee clinical care, and motor control theory. This training will complement Dr. Major’s experience and knowledge in biomechanics and prosthetic design, and enable him to develop research initiatives to investigate the functional balance, safety and mobility of assistive device users with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal impairments.
  • Outcomes of Partial Foot Amputation Generate Discussion

    The original perspective, Partial Foot Amputation May Not Always Be Worth the Risk of Complications, authored by M Dillon, S Fatone, M Morris and published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA 200(5), 17 March 2014), has stimulated a lively discussion about the outcomes and benefits of partial foot amputation. This exchange of letters is available online at the Medical Journal of Australia (Med J Aust 2014; 200 (11): 633-637) via the Contents page: Letters were submitted by PE Norman, DE Schoen and L Nedkoff; PA Lazzarini, M Malone and PR Wraight; and MP Dillon, S Fatone and ME Morris.

    The Medical Observer further references work by Dillon et al. about diabetic foot lesions and partial foot amputation. Read “Which Part of the Foot Is Best to Go Forward”:

  • Stefania Fatone Visits Universidad Nacional de Colombia

    Dr. Fatone and Dr. Patino at Aula Maxima standing before the fresco

    Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons) was invited by Dr. Juan Fernando Ramirez Patino to visit the Faculdad de Minas at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin to participate in the examination of two doctoral students in mechanical engineering. Dr. Fatone contributed to the examinations of Sofia Henao and Jesica Isaza in partial fulfillment of their doctor of philosophy degrees. Dr. Ramirez’ lab uses numerical models to better understand prosthetic sockets. Dr. Fatone and Dr. Ramirez discussed potential research collaborations.

NUPOC and RIC Offer Free Online Educational Module for Orthotists and Prosthetists

Linda Ehrlich-Jones, PhD, RN, presents Quality Improvement: What Is It and How Do We Use It? 

Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC) and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) offer a free, online educational module for orthotists and prosthetists.

Content includes a description of the benefits of continuous quality improvement efforts and step-by-step instruction on implementing such a project. Quality improvement initiatives have the potential to improve patient service, increase clinician and support staff effectiveness, and minimize cost by continuously identifying areas for targeted improvement. The outcome of such efforts can lead to improved patient satisfaction with clinical services and products, improved function, and, ultimately, improved quality of life.

Dr. Ehrlich-Jones introduces the Orthotics and Prosthetics Users’ Survey (OPUS), which is used to monitor patient functional status, health-related quality of life, and satisfaction with lower-extremity devices and clinical services. OPUS is an instrument that can be used to track patients’ feedback over the course of their treatment by collecting patient data at admission, at device delivery, and again at a later follow-up.

If you have questions or comments regarding the presentation, please contact Lauri Connelly, Clinical Research Coordinator: or call (312) 238-1405.