Skip Navigation
OU Public Affairs WebsiteThe University of OklahomaPublic Affairs

OU Research Team Developing Robotic Devices to Aid Infants with Cerebral Palsy as Part of National Science Foundation Initiative

10-29-12

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            
CONTACT:  Jana Smith, (405) 325-1322
 
NORMAN – Learning to crawl comes naturally for most infants, but those with cerebral palsy lack the muscle strength and coordination to perform the 25 individual movements required for crawling. With a $1.135 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s National Robotics Initiative, University of Oklahoma researchers from the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses are combining robotics, machine learning and brain imaging to assist infants with CP with the challenging, life-altering skill.

“Because infants with CP are unable to reliably perform the individual movements that make up crawling behavior, they learn to stop trying instead of continuing to practice these movements,” said Project Leader Andrew Fagg, associate professor in the OU departments of Computer Science and Bioengineering and project leader. “This substantially delays their development of skilled crawling. In turn, cognitive development and other areas of development are delayed because they both rely on the infants being able to explore their surrounding world.”

“In our previous study, we were able to capture many of the infant’s actions and had a robot that could assist some of the infant’s attempts at crawling. These assists serve as rewards that encourage continued practice of specific limb movements. This grant will allow us, among other things, to develop new robot platforms that can allow a greater range of infant mobility” said David Miller, professor in the OU departments of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering. “In the latter part of this grant, we will also start working with the transition from crawling to walking.”

“This grant is also important because it builds on and expands our previous work that maximizes the interaction of robotics with what an infant can do,” said Thubi Kolobe, professor of rehabilitative sciences at the OU Health Sciences Center College of Allied Health. “Infant learning is integral, and when infants stop trying, parts of the brain responsible for the skill are negatively affected. The next step of this research is to increase the level of help that infants with or at risk for CP are getting. We are looking for combinations of assists that result in the best incentives for these infants. We also want to see if there is a connection between what the infants are learning and what is happening in the brain.”

Lei Ding, assistant professor in the OU departments of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, will then perform brain scans using electroencephalograph to determine how the infants’ brains respond when they are assisted by the robotic device. The EEG technology will assess brain activity of infants during crawling and provide information about changes that occur because of robotics assists and infant efforts.

“Beginning in spring 2013, we will conduct clinical trials to test six infants without CP on the new crawling robot,” says Kolobe. “Then, one year later, we will conduct clinical trials to test 24 CP infants on the crawling robot. Initial tests on standing and walking with infants without CP will be conducted by the end of the project. No CP infants will be tested on standing and walking in this grant, only healthy infants.”

“This is groundbreaking research, and no one else in the world is doing it,” says Kolobe. “We want to invite anyone with an infant who is at risk for CP or severe developmental delays, between four and eight months old, who is interested in participating in these clinical trials to contact Dr. Thubi H.A. Kolobe, at 405-271-2131 ext. 47121 or hkolobe@ouhsc.edu.”

 2013  |  2012  |  2011

April 2014

Mary Cotter-Lalli Receives the 2014 Regents' Award for Superior Staff at OU Health Sciences Center

University of Oklahoma Students Achieve Perfect Grade-Point Average

OU Drama Achieves National Honors

University of Oklahoma Student Business Team Achieves Top Honors in International Competition

OU Commencement to Feature CEO and Co-Founder of Teach For All, Photo Highlights of Graduating Class and Music

Alan Velie Named 2014 Otis Sullivant Award Winner

OU Pilot Program Advances Research in Arts and Humanities

OU to Establish Premier Center for Judaic and Israel Studies with Grant from Schusterman Family Foundation

Three OU Students Receive Boren Awards for International Study

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History to be Awarded National Medal for Museum Service in White House Ceremony

Brad Burnett Receives the 2014 Regents' Award for Superior Staff

OU Designated Big 12 Conference Champion In EPA's College and University Green Power Challenge

OU Norman Campus Faculty Senate Adopts Resolution Against Guns on Campus

OU Licensing Department Achieves National Honors

2014 Staff Senate Awards Ceremony to be Held April 22

Five Outstanding Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at OU Commencement May 9

OU's Alexis Taitel Named Recipient of Truman Scholarship

2014 OU Staff Week to Include Daily Activities and Annual Awards Ceremony

OU History of Science Department Receives Sloan Foundation Grant to Build an Innovative Tool for Collaborative Research

OU Junior Rashid Campbell Wins Top Honors at National Debate Tournament

Norman Campus Provost Announces Intent to Resume Classroom Teaching; OU President David Boren to Recommend Kyle Harper as Interim Provost

OU President's Day of Learning Welcomes Back Alumni and Friends for its Second Year

University of Oklahoma Student Business Team Achieves Top Honor in National Competition

CEO and Co-Founder of Teach For All to Deliver OU Commencement Address

Liz Bergey Named Fulbright Alumni Ambassador

Akash Patel to Receive OU's Carl Albert Award

For requests for past releases, please contact OU Public Affairs at (405) 325-1701 or publicaffairs@ou.edu.