News & Announcements
Read the latest news from the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC). The links below take you to articles where you can learn more about NUPOC and our recent achievements.
A salt substitute with less sodium reduced rates of stroke and heart attack in rural China, according to a recent trial.
Northwestern University Trustees and alumni Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley W. Ryan have made a historic gift to name and endow the Robert J. Havey, MD Institute for Global Health.
Matthew Major, PhD, is an invited Keynote speaker at the 18th ISPO World Congress to be held November 1-4, 2021. Dr. Major will present Personalized Rehabilitation: Mapping the Links between Prosthesis Parameters, Motor Capacity, and Clinical Outcomes for Optimizing Interventions. He will discuss experimental techniques that can generate maps of correlate relationships among stiffness, damping and roll-over geometry; and iterative optimization that delivers personalized lower-limb loss rehabilitation interventions that encourage self-organization with the prosthesis.
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.
Quality improvement must measure more than average care quality and change to address the root causes of health inequity, according to a Northwestern Medicine editorial published in The BMJ.
Blessing Aghaulor, MD, MPH, a former resident in internal medicine and current fellow in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, has conducted research on transplant outcomes and consulted about patients at the ERASE trafficking clinic in Chicago.
Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons), and co-authors Elaine Owen, Fan Gao, Garth Shippen, Michael Oredurff and Kristie Bjornson, are pleased to announce the online first publication of their Technical Note, Comparison of Sagittal Plane Stiffness of Nonarticulated Pediatric Ankle-Foot Orthoses Designed to be Rigid.
The authors followed algorithms for ankle-foot orthosis-footwear combinations (AFO-FC) to test and compare the sagittal plane stiffness of 9 pediatric polypropylene AFOs that were designed to be rigid. The tested devices were 6 AFOs that were made and used clinically in the UK by the developer of the AFO-FC algorithms, and 3 AFOs that were made for a clinical trial in the USA.
Using a computer-controlled, motorized device, all AFOs were clamped with the calf shell in a fixed vertical component and the foot section in a rotating plate and tested for 3 trials that loaded the foot plate 30 Nm toward dorsiflexion and 20 Nm toward plantarflexion. Torque-angle graphs were plotted, and deflection and stiffness were compared descriptively across AFOs.
Testing revealed that pediatric nonarticulated polypropylene AFOs that were designed to have a rigid ankle, deflected only a few degrees in either direction (range, 2.59°–6.02°). These data represent the first report about the stiffness of rigid, pediatric nonarticulated AFOs. Overall, the UK AFOs were stiffer and deflected less than the USA clinical trial AFOs. Results suggest that AFO design features should be carefully considered because they are likely to influence AFO sagittal plane stiffness and deflection under load.
This Technical Note is published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics and can be accessed by subscription at https://journals.lww.com/jpojournal/toc/publishahead. See Supplemental Material at
Clare Severe, MS, defended her Master of Science thesis in biomedical engineering, The Response of Upper Limb Prosthesis Users to a Simulated Trip. Matthew Major, PhD, and Steven A. Gard, PhD, mentored her research at NUPOC.
Ms. Severe's study examined the mechanisms underlying locomotor stability of persons with ULL by characterizing the postural control responses of persons with ULL to a simulated trip and assessing the effects of prosthesis use on that response. Participants with unilateral transradial amputation completed perturbation trials involving an unexpected, rapid treadmill disturbance while walking. Results suggest that participants may have experienced greater challenge to recover from the perturbation while wearing their prostheses and when the perturbation was delivered during impaired limb stance.
The focus of this thesis is relevant to the safety of persons with major upper limb loss (ULL) because half of that population experiences at least one fall per year and almost a third will report an injury due to their most recent fall. Moreover, 25% of falls result from a trip and wearing an UL prosthesis increases the likelihood of frequent falls by six times.
Ms. Severe has accepted a position with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. NUPOC congratulates Clare Severe, MS.
R. J. Garrick, PhD, bids a fond farewell to NUPOC. Dr. Garrick worked collaboratively with NUPOC, and interfaced with donors, stakeholders and the public. During her 17-year tenure as communications and knowledge translation specialist, Dr. Garrick photographed, developed, wrote and disseminated print, digital and in-person information about NUPOC's research and education programs, activities, people and events.
NUPOC researchers Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons), Ryan Caldwell, CP, Rebecca Stine, MS, Steven Gard, PhD, and their research collaborators and co-authors John Angelico CPO, Kwang-Youn Kim, PhD, and Michael Oros, CPO, are pleased to announce the pre-print publication of their original research article, Comparison of Ischial Containment and Sub-Ischial Sockets on Comfort, Function, Quality-of-Life and Satisfaction with Device in Persons with Unilateral Transfemoral Amputation: A Randomized Crossover Trial.
The trial compared the comfort and functional performance of the Northwestern University Flexible Sub-Ischial Vacuum (NU-FlexSIV) Socket to the Ischial Containment (IC) Socket in 25 individuals (K3/K4) with unilateral transfemoral amputation. After 7 weeks accommodation, subjects’ Socket Comfort Score (SCS) responses indicated greater comfort and device satisfaction wearing the NU-FlexSIV Socket compared to the IC socket.
Access this article through subscription to the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2021.05.016).
Abby Renaud has joined NUPOC 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 (Winnetka, IL), 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 2021, she earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
We are pleased to welcome Abby Renaud to NUPOC.
Miguel Vaca Moran, MS, successfully presented his doctoral proposal, The Ankle-Foot and Knee Components of Transfemoral (TF) Prostheses: Their Combined Effect on Gait Safety, in an oral examination before a panel of engineering faculty. Mr. Vaca Moran described his dissertation hypotheses, objectives, methods and analysis.
He will collect human subjects’ data about commonly prescribed prosthetic components in systematically varied prosthetic knee and foot combinations. Mr. Vaca Moran’s evaluation of different combinations of passive-mechanical prosthetic ankle-foot and knee components may contribute to the development of component prescription guidelines that can improve gait safety in TF prosthesis users.
Steven A. Gard, PhD, and Matthew Major, PhD, will co-advise Mr. Vaca Moran in his doctoral work.
NUPOC congratulates Mr. Vaca Moran!
An exhibit of seven superb pastels by nationally recognized pastelist Evelyn Brody are displayed in the NUPOC Gallery. The collection, titled Pause Play, was installed in March 2020, but within weeks public viewing was suspended to comply with Northwestern University COVID-19 protocols. Throughout the anxious, dark months of the pandemic, Ms. Brody’s pastels have conveyed light, hope and calm normalcy to NUPOC students and personnel. Regrettably, the NUPOC Gallery is not yet open to the public; however, we wish to express our sincere appreciation to Ms. Brody for her generosity in allowing her pastel works to remain in the NUPOC Gallery.
On June 15, 2021, the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) announced the opening of the 2021 Juried Gallery Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois at the Zhou B Art Center. Ms. Brody’s recent works were selected for the prestigious 38th Open. This exhibition received over 1000 entries to the exhibition from countries including China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, France, Taiwan, Canada and the United States
NUPOC congratulates Ms. Brody for having her works selected to hang in the 2021 IAPS exhibit, and we thank her for her extended exhibit at the NUPOC Gallery.
Jenny 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.
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!
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.
A mental health smartphone app developed by a team of Northwestern Medicine investigators helped improve depressive symptoms in patients with diabetes and hypertension, according to a recent clinical trial published in JAMA.
The Institute for Global Health (IGH) has established the Center for Pathogen Genomics and Microbial Evolution which will apply lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to the tracking and prevention of future threats.
Three Feinberg students have received Harvard-BU-Northwestern-University of New Mexico Fogarty Global Health Fellowships, supporting work in Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania.
Abbey Filicko, a third-year medical student, presented findings from her community-based participatory research project in partnership with Chicago Public Schools at this year’s American Public Health Association (APHA) virtual annual meeting.
Listen to the year's most popular episodes of the Breakthroughs podcast, featuring Northwestern Medicine experts discussing COVID-19 research.
The Institute for Global Health hosted their second annual Global Health Day, highlighting traditional development issues as well as the impact COVID-19 has had on the field.
Using proxy measures of preparedness for hypertension or diabetes care did not accurately assess the ability of low- and middle-income countries to treat patients, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine.