Opportunities

CARE maintains a list of opportunities for student design and research projects. Some of these will be picked up for student research projects in courses such as Rehabilitation Engineering or Robot Mechanism Design. Others may be picked up by undergraduates looking for design projects. Please contact Prof. Sulzer if you would like to team up with a professor on this project.

If you know of an undergraduate research opportunity or a clinical need that would be of interest to CARE, please take a few moments to fill out a short questionnaire.

CLINICAL NEEDS

HOME WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY

  • Clinician name: Patrick Spicer, MD, PhD
  • Brief background of problem: Power wheelchairs are large and sometimes home constraints (e.g. bathroom size/shape, doorway width/orientation) can limit the type of wheelchair a patient can use.
  • Specific problem statement: Develop a room/space scanning device to determine if a given wheelchair can navigate a home environment.
  • Contact Person: Dr. Patrick Spicer 

 

UNIVERSAL ACCESS MICROSOFT KINECT

  • Clinician name: Catherine Harrison, DPT
  • Brief background of problem: Microsoft Kinect is a useful gaming tool for rehabilitation but is limited in its use for persons in wheelchairs.
  • Specific problem statement:  Develop a way to allow for more meaningful use of Microsoft Kinect games for a person in a wheelchair.
  • Contact Person: Dr. Patrick Spicer 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL/NURSE CALL SYSTEM FOR A HOSPITAL

  • Clinician name: Patrick Spicer, MD, PhD
  • Brief background of problem: Certain patients with disabilities (tetraparetic, visually impaired, etc.) cannot use traditional hospital environmental controls or nurse call system and alternatives allow for limited value communication.
  • Specific problem statement: Develop an alternative system for environmental control and nurse call that is more accessible to specifically impaired populations.
  • Contact Person: Dr. Patrick Spicer 

 

POST-STROKE VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

  • Clinician name: Patrick Spicer, MD, PhD
  • Brief background of problem: Many patients after stroke have visual impairment which can range from severe (dysconjugate gaze and diplopia or cortical blindness) to more mild (difficulty with accommodation or blurriness without significant acuity change).  There is specialized equipment to diagnose and quantify these impairments but are limited to specialized outpatient clinics.
  • Specific problem statement: Develop portable visual impairment tools for bedside assessment of various functions (acuity, tracking, convergence, etc.)
  • Contact Person: Dr. Patrick Spicer

REtrofit Standing Wheelchair

  • Patient Name: Paul Horton
  • Brief background of problem: 

    While wheelchairs that help stand the user exist, they are expensive. No devices currently exist that can be retrofit onto an existing wheelchair

  • Specific problem statement: Design and evaluate a wheelchair accessory that facilitates standing

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

Lower Back Mobility Assessment

  • Clinician Name: Nick Tsourmas, MD
  • Brief background of problem: 

    There is currently no way to quantify lower back mobility

  • Specific problem statement: Design and evaluate an inexpensive back mobility measurement tool

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

Ankle Clonus Test

  • Clinician Name: Kathleen Manella, PhD, PT
  • Brief background of problem: 

    People with SCI often have clonus of the ankle. The clonus needs to be quantified at home.

  • Specific problem statement: Design and evaluate an ankle clonus test

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

Writing Utensil Orthosis

  • Clinician Name: Christy Still, OT, CHT
  • Brief background of problem: 

    Those with arthritis have a difficult time holding a writing utensil

  • Specific problem statement: Design an orthotic device that helps stabilize a writing utensil

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

Hand Exoskeleton

  • Patient Name: Javier Corona
  • Brief background of problem: 

    Many SCI patients have no ability to grasp at all, but some reaching ability

  • Specific problem statement: Design a powered orthotic device to assist with grasping objects

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer
  • Additional Comments: Graduate level project

Inflatable Bed Wedge

  • Patient Name: Paul Horton
  • Brief background of problem: For people with spinal cord injury, many functions need to take place in bed, for example, dressing or catheters.  Special beds at home have the head of the bed raised using motors, but outside of home, such as in hotels, there are only standard beds.  

  • Specific problem statement: Design a portable upper body support device to be used in bed during travel, possibly inflatable.

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

POwered Reach/Grasp Device

  • Patient Name: Javier Corona
  • Brief background of problem: 

    Reaching items (cans on pantry, fallen items on floor, shirts on a hanger, etc) poses a substantial challenge to individuals with limited hand and arm function. As a quadriplegic, hand control and arm strength is very limited and can’t fully reach and grab items.

  • Specific problem statement: Design a device to assist with reaching and grasping objects.  May require a powered device 

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer
  • Additional Comments: Graduate level project

rope grip device

  • Patient Name: Paul Horton
  • Brief background of problem: For someone like me--functional arms but weak hand grip--pulling lines on a sailboat is a challenge. I’ll wrap lines around my hand, hold them in my teeth and use whatever other tricks I can come up with. Sailboat hardware includes all sorts of nifty cleats with cams and wedges for grabbing lines. They are usually to be mounted to a rigid surface.
  • Specific problem statement: Design a device to assist with grasping sailboat lines
  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer

SMART GARMENT TO REGULATE BLOOD PRESSURE

  • Patient Name: Javier Corona
  • Brief background of problem: 

    Many quadriplegics are never able to fully control their blood pressure and have to function with very low blood pressure on daily basis (Orthostatic Hypotension) and this situation creates additional problems such as edemas, DVTs, light headedness etc.

  • Specific problem statement: Design a lightweight, inconspicuous (possibly inflatable) garment to stabilize blood pressure 

  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer
  • Additional Comments: More information available upon request.

Wrist Brace for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

  • Clinician Name: Christy Still, OT, CHT
  • Brief background of problem: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are unable to use hand due to significant ulnar deviation of digits at metacarpal phalangeal joints
  • Specific problem statement: People with rheumatoid arthritis often lose function from a zip zag deformity of joints (which actually starts at the wrist). If they had a low profile brace to realign joints, it would likely enable them to have better hand function.
  • Contact Professor: Prof. James Sulzer
  • Additional Comments: There are many braces on the market (maybe even some I am not aware of). They often have a neoprene or velcro component to help realign the MCP joints. You can find them by searching for ulnar nerve deviation split or brace for rheumatoid arthritis. I have yet to have a patient content with a brace and use it to improve function.

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES

Undergraduate Research Assistant at Austin Speech Labs

  • Description:    The undergraduate research assistant will work with speech therapists and Austin Speech Labs research lab in conducting research studies. Studies will focus on innovative treatments to hasten speech and language skills recovery in people that suffered a stroke. 
  • Desired skills:    Work Ethic, Punctuality, Computer skills (Word, Power Point, Excel), Oral Communication Skills, Interested in speech and language rehabilitation , Flexible to learn new technology 
  • Expected workload (hours/week):   10 hrs/week 
  • Intended start date: Flexible 
  • Contact information:   Shilpa Shamapant, M.S.M.A., CCC-SLP, shilpa@austinspeechlabs.orgwww.austinspeechlabs.org

Here are the opportunities in the Rewire Lab