The Functional Outcomes Research Evaluation (F.O.R.E.) Center is a unique combination of the Physical Therapy and Music Engineering and Technology departments. The two programs have since collaborated to conduct research which will improve the lives of amputees, athletes, and those recovering from injuries. Dr. Christopher Bennett and Dr. Vibhor Agrawal also lead the research conducted in the lab. Dr. Bennett has experience in Music Engineering, Psychoacoustics, and Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Agrawal has experience in Biomedical Engineering, especially relating to prosthetics. The lab has joined Össur, an Icelandic orthopedic company which manufacturers non-invasive prosthetics, to conduct their research using Össur prosthetics. The Össur study is one of six research projects presently under way at the University’s Functional Outcomes Research and Evaluation (F.O.R.E.) Center on the Coral Gables campus, including a study funded by the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation on how the cacophony of hospital alarms and monitoring devices affects stress levels in both patients and clinicians. This study continues the postdoc work of Christopher Bennett, B.S.E.E. ’05, M.S.M.E.T. ’07, Ph.D. ’10, Frost School research assistant professor and jazz pianist.
We were fortunate to participate in the ACCelerate Festival held at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Here’s an excerpt from an article about the event linked below.
“A first-of- its-kind collaboration among UM musicians, biomedical engineers, and physical therapists, the patent-pending ReLOAD system helps amputees develop correct walking patterns on their prostheses with a clever reward—music borrowed from their own playlist. Composed of an iPad and five miniature motion sensors, two embedded in a knee sleeve on each leg and one on the back, ReLOAD captures and analyzes the wearer’s walking motion, and through standard ear buds, distorts the music whenever their gait deviates from its normal stride. Augmenting the music are the corrective commands the wearer would hear from a physical therapist, were one present.
“There was nothing like this when I became an amputee,” said Jennifer Lopez, who lost her lower right leg in an accident three years ago and never tired of demonstrating the device over the three-day festival. “It’s a physical therapist in your pocket.”
The director of nursing operations at University of Miami Hospital, Lopez said she was fortunate to have regular physical therapy during her recovery. But many new amputees, including military personnel at nearby Walter Reed Hospital, which is collaborating with UM on a ReLOAD study, often wait months for appointments, making ReLOAD an extraordinary asset.”