Grant Support


Efficacy of the START-Play Program for Infants with Neuromotor Disorders

Role: Co-Investigator, Site Primary Investigator (18% effort); PI: Harbourne, R.

Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education: R324A150103


Our team of pediatric clinical and educational specialists has devised an intervention to advance sitting and reaching ability in the first two years of life in order to advance readiness to learn in school for individuals at risk of or with cerebral palsy. The sites involved in this study include The University of Washington, The University of Nebraska Medical Center, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, The University of Delaware, and Virginia Commonwealth University.


Development and Testing of a Smart Garment

Role: PI

State of Delaware Federal Research and Development Grant Program

10/01/2015-12/31/2017 (including no cost extension)

Our team of fashion, engineering, and rehabilitation professionals will enhance our existing exoskeletal garment, the Playskin LiftTM, by making it a smart garment that will track data about users’ activity. This will address a key need of understanding if and how exoskeletons can affect change in the everyday activity of people in their natural environments.


Development and Testing of Wearable Technology to Promote Early Movement and Cognition

Role: PI

University of Delaware Research Foundation (UDRF)


At least 1 in 6 children age 3 to 17 years in the US has a disability impacting motor or cognitive development. The way parents handle and position their young infants can impact motor and cognitive development through preschool age. Parents in the US primarily position young infants supported and on their backs and these infants show later milestone achievement than those in other cultures. Nationwide educational campaigns have not been sufficient to change early parent-infant handling and positioning interactions. The current project aims to further develop and test wearable technology to encourage parents to more optimally handle and position their infants. UDRF support will allow this technology to be improved and pilot data to be collected so that federal funds can be sought to measure the impact of this technology on immediate parent-infant interactions and on longer-term health and development. This low-cost technology could be especially beneficially to advance early learning and development for infants at greatest risk of delays due to socioeconomic status or medical risk.


Lite Run Pediatric Gait Trainer

Role: Consultant

New England Pediatric Device Consortium 2016 Target Challenge Award


This project aims to develop and test pediatric clinical and home versions of a pressurized lower body suit and device that provides body weight support for mobility without a harness. My role as consultant is to work with the design team and to connect with families to ensure the device meets the broad needs of users.

$50,000 direct

SCH:  GEAR – Grounded Early Adaptive Rehabilitation

Role: Data Safety & Monitoring Board Member

PI: Bert Tanner, PhD

NIH 1R01HD087133-01

This project assesses a new portable motor rehabilitation system with social robotic interfaces that maximizes rehabilitation dosage for children with motor and social disabilities. The project will provide insights into motor development in children with special needs suggesting a new early intervention paradigm for children with motor disabilities.

SCH:  INT:  Collaborative Research:  Smart Wearable Systems to Support and Measure Movement in Children With and Without Mobility Impairments

Role: Co-Investigator, Site Primary Investigator (10% effort); PI: Dunne, L. (University of Minnesota)

National Science Foundation (NSF)


Our team of fashion, engineering, and rehabilitation professionals will: 1) test novel movement sensing technology incorporated in soft, comfortable garments on children with and without mobility impairments, 2) create algorithms to analyze the data to categorize behaviors performed, and 3) utilize advances in soft robotics and shape memory alloys to design the first user-controlled exoskeletal garment for children with arm movement impairments.

$1,512,403 total ($499,307 to UD)


Conductive Thread Stitched Sensor

Role: Academic Lead

NSF I-Corp Training Grant


Currently motion capture can only be done outside of a laboratory environment with an individual having a rigid sensor adhered to each body segment. Out technology is a conductive thread than when stitched into clothing in a specific geometry, can be used to measure stretch. By strategically placing these sensors across joints in a compression garment, these stitched stretch sensors may be used to measure human movement. This technology could be extremely useful for collecting data where previously not possible: athletes underneath their gear, animation recordings not in a lab setting, gait analysis during the daily life, and input for the future of virtual reality gaming.


The Snuggle Time Garment

Role: Investigator [Academic Lead: Abigail Clarke-Sather, PhD, Civil Engineering & Fashion & Apparel Studies; Other Investigators: Kelly Cobb, Fashion & Apparel Studies, Melissa Melby, Anthropology]

NSF I-Corp Training Grant


The Snuggle Time Garment is a soft, functional device aiding breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) are early caregiver-infant behaviors that improve infant motor, cognitive, and social-emotional development including infants at risk. Breastfed infants have reduced incidence of diabetes, obesity, asthma, and leukemia. Breastfeeding of preterm infants leads to improved motor, cognitive, and social-emotional development as toddlers. Kangaroo care improves sleep, emotional regulation, alertness, and 12-month neurodevelopmental outcomes. This soft, functional device addresses privacy, infant fragility, and parent-child comfort, all of which are limitations preventing breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact in NICUs.


An Innovative Device for Intervention in Infants with Nervous System Injury

Role: PI (10% effort)

NIH 1R21HD076092-01A1

12/09/2013-11/30/2016 (including one no cost extension year)

In collaboration with rehabilitation engineers from A.I Dupont Hospital for Children and neonatologists from Christiana Care Health Services and Thomas Jefferson University, we are testing the effectiveness of exoskeletal rehabilitation devices (P-WREX+ and the Playskin LiftTM) to improve limb movement and function for infants born with brain injuries and high risk for movement disorders, such as cerebral palsy, and for toddlers with significant arm movement impairments due to diagnoses such as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.

Round 1: Priority score 26, percentile 17th

Round 2: Priority score 13, percentile 1st


Motor Learning and Coordination in High-risk Infants


R01 HD051748-01A1


Role: Post-doctoral Fellow (2007-2009), Research Scientist (2010-2012)

PI: Galloway, J.C.

We used a variety of learning, memory, and developmental assessments in combination with medical and brain imaging data to compare development of infants born preterm with high-risk to those born full-term from birth through 2 years of age. The goal was to determine early predictors of future delay and need for early intervention.

Does Early Postural Intervention Affect Sitting Balance and Reaching in Infants Born Preterm?

01/01/09-06/30/10, no cost extension through 07/01/11

Section on Pediatrics Planning Grant

American Physical Therapy Association

Role: Co-investigator

PI: Dusing, S.C.

Our team of individuals with expertise in clinical research worked together to design an intervention to advance sitting and object exploration ability in the first years of life for children at risk for cerebral palsy. We submitted a proposal for federal funding using a multiple-site intervention model. There were individuals from 5 different different universities involved in this effort. Proposals for multi-site clinical trials submitted to NIH and the DOE emerged from this collaboration.