UD Labs

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Falls and Mobility Research Laboratory
Director: Jeremy Crenshaw, Ph.D.

In the Falls and Mobility Lab, we evaluate reactive balance, or a person’s ability to stop a fall after something makes them lose their balance. We use a computer-controlled treadmill to simulate common fall causes, such as a trip or a slip. We then use motion-capture technology and electromyography to quantify how the person moves and how their muscles are activated. With this technology, we have evaluated how older age, chronic stroke, and cerebral palsy affects reactive balance. We also have people practice recovering from our treadmill-induced falls, and we then use our biomechanical tools to quantify exactly how they improved their balance reactions. Our goal is to use this intervention to improve reactive balance, confidence, physical activity, and the risk of falls and fall injuries.

Gait Biomechanics Research Laboratory
Director: Jocelyn Hafer, Ph.D.

The Gait Biomechanics Lab aims to better understand how individuals walk and what factors influence someone’s walking ability. We study changes in gait due to age, pathology, injury, or exercise in order to determine how to prevent mobility issues. We use laboratory techniques to get precise measurements of joint movements and forces, muscle activity, and muscle strength. We are developing new methods to better understand how real-world gait (that is, the way someone walks during daily life when they’re not in our lab) affects long-term joint health.

Orthotics & Prosthetics for Enhanced Mobility Laboratory
Director: Elisa Arch, Ph.D.

The O.P.En. Mobility Lab focuses on orthotic and prosthetic biomechanics. Our lab’s research aims to optimize the design and prescription of orthotic and prosthetic devices to enable all orthotic and prosthetic users to reach their optimal functional level. To achieve this goal, we employ engineering and biomechanics tools and approaches, including instrumented motion capture technology, computer-aided design (CAD), and additive manufacturing (3-D printing).

Concussion Research Laboratory
Director: Thomas Buckley, Ph.D.

The overarching goals of the Concussion Research Group are to explore the neurological consequences of concussions and repetitive head impacts. The lab group is examining persistent balance deficits and their association with post-concussion subsequent musculoskeletal injuries in intercollegiate student-athletes. Our primary current research question is the effect of repetitive head impacts and participation in collision sports on neurological health both in current student-athletes but also across the lifespan.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Laboratory
Director: Lynn Snyder-Mackler, PT, ATC, Sc.D, SCS, FAPTA

The goals of the ACL lab are to study the factors surrounding ACL injuries including: first time ACL injuries, ACL re-injuries, physical therapy rehabilitation strategies for ACL injuries, and the long-term impact an ACL injury has on the knee joint. The [FIFA] 11+ study examined the effect of the 11+ program on biomechanical movement patterns of collegiate women’s soccer players. The 11+ can reduce injury rates, including ACL injury rates, in soccer players. Our primary research question for this study was whether the 11+ also changes how athletes move (i.e. their biomechanics) during athletic tasks.

Neuromuscular Biomechanics Laboratory
Director: Jill Higginson, PhD

The fundamental objective of our research group is to improve the understanding of muscle coordination for normal and pathological movements through coupled experimental and simulation studies. We use computational models to develop a cause-and-effect framework that relates muscle impairments to gait deviations. The overarching goal is to form a scientific rationale for therapeutic interventions to improve movement.

Neuromotor Behavior Laboratory
Principal Investigators: Darcy Reisman, Ph.D. & Susanne Morton, Ph.D.

At the Neuromotor Behavior Lab at the University of Delaware, we study motor learning, which is the process people use to learn and remember new movement patterns. Studying motor learning is important because if we can understand how people learn new movements, we can better help rehabilitate patients who need to re-learn how to perform everyday movements such as walking and reaching after a neurologic injury, such as a stroke. Using advanced laboratory instruments, we can precisely measure numerous aspects of movement, to quantify the amount and rate of motor learning in various patient populations. Through our research, we can use these techniques to inform physical therapists of the best motor learning processes to provide the highest quality care to their patients.

Muscle and Tendon Performance Laboratory
Principal Investigator: Karin Gravare Silbernagel, Ph.D.

The Tendon Research Group at the University of Delaware is an interdisciplinary team working to advance understanding of tendon injuries and repair so that tailored treatments can be developed. Tendon injuries can result in extended time off work and slow return to physical activity, frequently leaving the injured with permanent deficits in function. Healing varies widely among people with tendon injuries, and the reason for this variation is poorly understood. Our research approach promotes a holistic view of tendon health by evaluating symptoms, lower extremity function, psychological factors, and tendon structural and mechanical properties. We aim to improve understanding of tendon injuries, and to integrate this knowledge into new, patient-centered rehabilitation therapies. The close connection between our Tendon Research Group and the Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic enables conceptual ideas generated in the clinic to be explored in our research and, in turn, implemented in clinical practice..

Pitching’s effects on shoulders, elbows of high school players

Ballerinas on point studied in motion capture

Figure Skating
U.S. Figure Skaters undergo UD biomechanics testing

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