Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center

NUPOC News

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.

  • Jenny Kent, PhD, Accepts Assistant Professor Position
    06/15/2021

    Jenny Kent, PhDJenny Kent, PhD, will leave NUPOC to accept a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy (PT), School of Integrated Health Sciences, University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). Dr. Kent’s responsibilities will be primarily research, together with teaching responsibilities and mentorship of PhD and DPT students.

    As a postdoctoral fellow at NUPOC under the auspices of the Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) grant, Dr. Kent has been advised by Matthew Major, PhD, since 2019. A collaborative and productive colleague, she conducted scientific experiments for numerous research projects, including Fall Risk and Prosthetic Influence on Gait Biomechanics in Upper Limb Amputees;  Sensory-Motor Mechanisms Underlying Fall Risk in Transtibial Amputees; and Characterizing the Gait Biomechanics of Women with Leg Amputation for Improving Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Practice. She also collaborated on research projects with the GEAR Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Prosthetic vs Sound, What Are We Measuring?Dr. Kent successfully proposed and was funded as Principal Investigator of the research project, Vacuum-Assisted Suspension: The Effect of Residuum-Socket Interface Integrity on Perception and Control in Individuals with a Transtibial Amputation. She has 9 first-author and many co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals. Annually, she presents research findings at national and international professional meetings, and trains, supervises and mentors graduate Biomedical Engineering and Prosthetics and Orthotics students.

    Dr. Kent completed her doctoral training in Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (2018). Mentored by Nicholas Stergiou, PhD, her dissertation examined The Implications of Lower Limb Impediment for Our Ability to Walk on Uneven Terrain.

    Dr. Kent holds a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nottingham (UK, 2002), and an MSc in Biomedical Engineering from University of Surrey (UK, 2005).  Together with her master’s degree, Dr. Kent also attained a Postgraduate Diploma of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM).

    Between completing her master’s and doctoral training, Dr. Kent worked as a Higher Scientific Officer at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Headley Court (Surrey, UK, 2006-2014). She holds a Certificate of Attainment in Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering from the Association of Clinical Scientists; and continues to maintain certifications as a registered Clinical Scientist (UK Health Care Professions Council) and a Chartered Scientist (UK Science Council).

    In her new position at UNLV, Dr. Kent anticipates continuing her research focused on developing fundamental knowledge, strategies, and interventions to improve mobility and autonomy in individuals with musculoskeletal compromise, with a specific emphasis on individuals with amputation. Dr. Kent looks forward to expanding her research foci and working with clinical colleagues.

    The PT program at UNLV is highly competitive and graduates have a 100 percent pass rate for board exams. In 2021, U.S. News and World Reports recognized the UNLV PT program in the top quartile of programs nationwide.

    NUPOC will miss Dr. Kent and we wish her every success at UNLV!

  • NUPOC Welcomes the MPO Class of 2023
    06/11/2021

    The incoming Class of 2023 in the Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics (MPO) degree met their cohort and NUPOC personnel on June 4, 2021. Throughout the day-long Zoom Orientation meeting, students and faculty participated in various interactive and small group activities, including breakout sessions with faculty mentors, student life presentations, and an on-line scavenger hunt. 

    Chad Duncan, PhD, CPO, opened the Orientation, welcomed the students, and introduced NUPOC personnel. NUPOC faculty members introduced themselves and described the courses they instruct. Melinda Thorpe, CPO, discussed the MPO program’s logistics, expectations, texts, the Canvas Learning Management System, and how to navigate the online coursework and tests. Anisah Mirza, CPO, MBA, provided an overview of Prosthetics and Orthotics, summarizing requirements for CPO licensure, residency and professional preparation. She discussed ways that students can ensure their success in both the online and onsite portions of the program. 

    Elliot Roth, MD, Chairman of PM&R, delivered an inspiring message: “Congratulations on entering this dynamic specialization. There are great opportunities, a lot to learn and a lot to contribute. Keep five broad objectives in mind: 1. Learn important knowledge and skills in P&O; 2. PM&R is a multidisciplinary field that uses a team approach to care, so learn from everyone around you; 3. Learn about yourself and from the patients. Develop empathy in your understanding of their experiences; 4. Commit to lifelong learning because over time our specialty is changing, developing better quality and better outcomes; 5. Have an impact on your field. Make it better than when you found it. Make the lives of your patients better. Improve the profession, the community and the world. In so doing, you reflect favorably on our program.” 

    Students briefly introduced themselves, their prior training and extracurricular interests. Thirty-one women and seventeen men are enrolled in MPO 2023. The class represents various ethnicities and baccalaureate majors, predominantly biomedical engineering, kinesiology and exercise science, but also majors as diverse as English, social sciences and fine arts. Four incoming students already hold a Master’s degree. Geographically, the students represent more than 20 states and Canada. The class of MPO 2023 is primed to begin their online coursework on July 6, 2021 and will arrive at NUPOC in January 2022 to complete a one-year supervised clinical practicum.

  • Matthew Major, PhD, Invited Keynote Speaker at ISPO 2021
    06/09/2021

    ISPO 2021 logo

    Matthew Major, PhDMatthew Major, PhD, is an invited Keynote speaker at the 18th ISPO World Congress to be held November 1-4, 2021.  

    Every two years, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) convenes the ISPO World Congress to inform professionals about the latest scientific and clinical advances, products, innovative technologies, designs, and materials in prosthetic and orthotic care.

    The theme of the 2021 ISPO World Congress is Digital Transformation in an Evolving World. Participants will consider all aspects of using digital access related to assistive technology, electronic health records, computer-aided design, microprocessor-controlled prostheses / orthoses, video conferencing, and social media. The Congress seeks to advance the profession by using digital and artificial intelligence technology to provide superior P&O services throughout the world.

    Dr. Major is an Associate Professor at Northwestern University and a Research Health Scientist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, USA. A faculty member of the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC), he directs the Prosthetics and Orthotics Rehabilitation Technology Assessment Laboratory (PORTAL). His research focuses on the design and optimization of rehabilitation interventions to enhance mobility and independence of individuals with musculoskeletal or neurological pathology. He serves on the Journal of Prosthetics & Orthotics Editorial Board, the Orthotic and Prosthetic Education and Research Foundation Research Committee, and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics Scientific Committee.

  • Shay Pinhey, MS, Successfully Defends Thesis
    06/08/2021
    Shay Pinhey, MS

    Shay Pinhey, MS, successfully defended her biomedical engineering master’s thesis, Investigating Risk of Secondary Physical Condition Development in Transfemoral Prosthesis Users on the Basis of Sex, under the mentorship of Steven A. Gard, PhD.

    Based on findings that able-bodied females develop musculoskeletal conditions at a higher incidence than their male counterparts, Ms. Pinhey compared gait variables between five male and five female transfemoral prosthesis users with respect to gait asymmetries that may be related to the development of secondary musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain (LBP) and osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. Using retrospective, quantitative gait analysis data, she analyzed six biomechanical gait variables for the ten subjects walking at three different speeds: 1) ground reaction force (GRF) peak, 2) GRF loading rate, 3) knee adduction moment, 4) knee flexion moment, 5) hip flexion moment, and 6) pelvic tilt.

    Comparison of outcomes for male and female subjects showed that females had significantly greater GRF loading rate between the sound limb and the prosthesis during normal and fast walking speeds with higher loading rate on the sound limb; significantly greater knee and hip flexion moment; and nearly twice the pelvic tilt motion. This study calls for additional research in differences between gait biomechanics in male and female transfemoral prosthesis users with attention to the health of the sound limb.

    Ms. Pinhey said, “I want to continue my career in research and I am currently seeking employment in a research related position. I have greatly enjoyed my experiences at Northwestern University and especially at NUPOC. In the future, I plan to pursue my doctorate in Biomedical Engineering and continue my work in the field of prosthetics.”

    NUPOC congratulates Ms. Pinhey on her achievement! 
  • NUPOC to Present at Regional P&O Meetings
    05/20/2021

    NUPOC personnel regularly contribute to regional AAOP meetings. The Academy has ten active state or regional chapters that offer annual opportunities to earn professional Continuing Education Credits, connect with colleagues, and exchange information about new laws, services, devices, research findings, and technical advances that affect the industry.

    Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons), and Ryan Caldwell, CP, will present Transfemoral Socket Design: Overview of the Northwestern University Sub-ischial Socket Technique at four virtual regional meetings: the Tennessee Society of Orthotics & Prosthetics on May 20 through 22; the New York State Chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists, Prosthetists & Pedorthotists on May 24; the Kentucky Orthotics & Prosthetics Association on June 10 and 11; and the Texas Society of Orthotics & Prosthetics on June 24 through 26. 

  • Abby Renaud to Join NUPOC
    05/12/2021

    Abby RenaudAbby Renaud will join NUPOC in June as a research intern who will work under the supervision of Matthew Major, PhD, on in-progress research projects. Ms. Renaud is a rising junior in the Biomedical Engineering program at the McCormick School of Applied Science and Engineering. Her academic foci include Biomechanics, Thermodynamics, Physics, Organic Chemistry and Biology. Working with a team to design and produce a wheelchair attachment to protect users from the rain piqued her interest in rehabilitation engineering. Ms. Renaud will apply MATLAB skills to NUPOC research projects.

    A graduate of North Shore Country Day School (NSCDS), Abby took all AP science classes and is considering medicine as a possible future career. She was involved in extracurricular activities that included Yearbook Editor, tutoring and volunteering with organizations for refugees, homeless and patients at Rush University Medical Center. She was a 4-year Varsity athlete in Field Hockey and Soccer and has carried those interests forward to Northwestern University where she plays on the Varsity Field Hockey team. In 2019, she earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.

    We are pleased to welcome Abby Renaud to NUPOC.

  • Quinlan Accepts Position at AbbVie-Allergan
    04/27/2021

    Julia Quinlan, PhDJulia Zelenakova Quinlan, PhD, has accepted a post as Quality Engineer IV, Risk Management, at AbbVie-Allergan. AbbVie is a research-based, global biopharmaceutical company that spun off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013 and completed its acquisition of Allergan in 2020.

    In 2016, Dr. Quinlan joined NUPOC as a Postdoctoral Fellow sponsored by a NIDILRR Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Grant (Principal Investigator Steven A. Gard, PhD). During her time at NUPOC, Dr. Quinlan contributed engineering expertise as Project Director to a Department of Defense funded research project, No Longer Smooth: Introducing Striations into Prosthetic Socket Construction to Improve Suspension, Rotation, Fit and Comfort, led by Principal Investigator Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons). The project investigated the effect of socket texturing on suspension, rotation, fit, and comfort for transtibial sockets. For the project, Dr. Quinlan developed novel material testing protocols on an INSTRON® machine; conducted experiments that measured the coefficient of friction; and evaluated the tensile and static strength of sockets with different textured patterns. As first author, Dr. Quinlan presented the team’s research findings at national, regional and local conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

    Drs. Quinlan, Gard and Fatone at the AAOP national meeting (Orlando, FL, 2019).Following 4 postdoctoral years, Dr. Quinlan worked with Matthew Major, PhD, and Jenny Kent, PhD, contributing to projects that include The Effect of Residuum-Socket Interface Integrity on Perception and Control in Individuals with a Transtibial Amputation and Characterizing the Gait Biomechanics of Women with Leg Amputation for Improving Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Practice.

    Dr. Quinlan earned a doctorate in Bioengineering with a concentration in Biomechanics at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC); and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering at The Technical University of Košice (TUKE), Slovakia. At TUKE, she was recognized with a Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student. Her doctoral dissertation addressed “Effect of Binge Alcohol Exposure on Intervertebral Disc Structure and Mechanical Properties in Adult Rats” and her Master’s thesis examined “Ambient Intelligence Tools Applied in Everyday Activities in the Home Environment”.

    Dr. Quinlan expressed sincere appreciation to her colleagues for the formative and productive years she spent working and learning at NUPOC. NUPOC congratulates Dr. Quinlan and wishes her every success. 

  • NUPOC to Present at American Society of Biomechanics Conference
    04/23/2021

    Clare Severe, BS, NUPOCClare Severe, BS, will present A Pilot Study on the Response of Upper Limb Prosthesis Users to a Simulated Trip at the Human Movement Variability and Great Plains American Society of Biomechanics Conference to be held virtually on May 20-21, 2021.

    The presentation examines falling among persons with a major upper limb loss (ULL) as an often overlooked health hazard. Data suggest that wearing an upper limb prosthesis (ULP) increases likelihood of frequent falls (at least twice per year) by six times. Biomechanical studies suggest that persons with ULL may experience impaired postural control and locomotor stability. This pilot study aimed to characterize the locomotor response of persons with ULL to a simulated trip and assess the effects of prosthesis use on that response.

    Full body sagittal-plane kinematic data were collected with an optical motion capture system for a single subject walking on a custom treadmill during 12 perturbation trials. As intended, the perturbation disturbed whole-body angular momentum (WAM) regulation. The WAM range was higher during perturbation on the sound side single support when the subject was not wearing his ULP. Findings suggest an asymmetric locomotor response to trip disturbance that may relate to ULP wear.

    Study co-authors are Jenny Kent, PhD, Paul Hammond II, MS, and Matthew Major, PhD
  • NUPOC to Present at AAOP Annual Symposium
    04/22/2021

    2021 AAOP annual meeting logoNUPOC will present research reports at the 47th Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium, American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists on May 4-7, 2021. This is a virtual meeting.

    John Brinkmann, CPO, will be a panelist for Schwartz Rounds: Challenging Family Dynamics in O&P.

    Ryan Caldwell, CP, will be a panelist for Active Vacuum Implementation and Troubleshooting for the Transtibial Amputation Level.

    Kristin Carnahan, CPO, will be a panelist for Active Vacuum Implementation and Troubleshooting for the Transtibial Amputation Level; and Hot Topics in O&P Round Table Discussions

    Stefania Fatone, PhD, will present Combining Myoelectric Upper Limb Orthosis Use with Motor Learning-Based Therapy in Chronic Stroke and TBI. Co-authors are S Pundik, J McCabe, M Skelly, A Salameh, Z Chen, C Tatsuoka.

    Jenny Kent, PhD, will present Knee Flexion Damping Affects Several Key Features of the Prosthetic Limb Swing Phase. Co-authors are VNM Arelekatti, NT Petelina, WB Johnson, JT Brinkmann, V Winter and MJ Major.

    Matthew Major, PhD, will present Frequency Analysis of Acceleration Patterns during Activities of Daily Living in Upper-Limb Prosthesis Users. Co-authors are R Knox and M Elwin.

    Matthew Major, PhD, will present Locomotor Response of Older Persons with and without Transtibital Amputation to a Trip Disturbance. Co-authors are C Martin, P Hammond II and R Stine.

    Matthew Major, PhD, will present Perceived Footwear Limitations in Women Prosthesis Users and Their Impact on Patient Reported Outcomes. Co-authors are E Russell Esposito, B Slater, K Muschler, A Ikeda, A Hansen and C Erbes.

    Julia Quinlan, PhD, will present Stance-Phase Mechanical Properties of Women-Specific Adjustable Heel-Height Prosthetic Feet and Footwear. Co-authors are A Hansen, E Russell Esposito and MJ Major.

    Miguel Vaca Moran, MS, will present The Effect of Prosthetic Ankle Stiffness Changes on Gait and Standing in People with Unilateral Transtibial Amputations. Co-authors are R Stine, P Hammond II, M Cavanaugh, M Major and SA Gard. 

    Additionally, NUPOC graduate students will present research posters that they developed while supervised by their mentors:

    Keira Newkirk (MPO 2021), will present a poster, Factors Contributing to Prosthesis Embodiment in Persons with Major Upper Limb Loss or Congenital Difference: a semi-structured literature review. Matthew Major is a co-author.

    Shay Pinhey, (Biomedical Engineering, MS 2021), will present a poster, Effects of Walking Speed on Mechanical Work on the Body Center of Mass in Transfemoral Prosthesis Users. Co-authors are R Amma, H Murata, G Hisano, H Hobara and MJ Major.

    Steven Rowles (MPO 2021) will present a poster, A Review Comparing the Effects of Endoprostheses and Rotationplasty on Function and Quality of Life in Survivors of Bone Cancer. Stefania Fatone is a co-author.

  • NUPOC Presents STEM Education Program
    04/19/2021

    Madeleine Drefke at NUPOC STEM programEducational outreach programs about biomedical engineering (BME) and P&O are an important part of NUPOC’s commitment to inform young people who are interested in STEM careers.

    In March 2021, NUPOC hosted high school senior Madeleine Drefke (National Cathedral School, Washington, D.C.) for a 2-week educational visit. Ms. Drefke won a competitive STEM fellowship and selected NUPOC to fulfill the requirement that she visit a biomedical engineering lab. Although Northwestern University suspended high school group visits to campus through 2021, Ms. Drefke’s visit was confirmed prior to the pandemic closure, conducted with University permission, and in full compliance with COVID guidelines.

    Madeleine Drefke at NUPOC Stem programUsing in person and distance interactions, NUPOC presented stimulating and informative sessions that included overviews of BME and MPO degree programs; prosthetic feet; research on the optimization of prosthetic foot and ankle stiffness; functional assessment and clinical outcome measures; research about traditional, dilatancy and hydrostatic socket casting; quantification in biomedical research; opportunities for women in STEM; biomechanics of lower limb function and gait. Presenters were Matthew Major, PhD; Julia Quinlan, PhD; Jeff Linton, CPO; Steven Gard, PhD; Miguel Vaca Moran, MS; Stefania Fatone, PhD; Liridona Ashiku, BS; Ryan Caldwell, CP; Jenny Kent, PhD; and MPO 2021 students Becca Torres, BS, and Andrew Melón, BS. R. J. Garrick, PhD, developed this STEM education program.

The Childress Fund

Established with a generous gift from the Childress family, the Childress Fund accepts donations that help to continue Dudley Childress' work by stimulating interest in rehabilitation engineering for Prosthetics and Orthotics.

The Childress Fund benefits all who are interested in P&O and especially individuals who live with physical impairments. We invite you to be part of this ongoing effort by giving generously to the 

Dudley S. Childress, PhD, Research and Education Fund