EECS500 Spring 2017 Department Colloquium

Ravi Balasubramanian
Re-Engineering the Human Body Using Implanted Miniature Passive Mechanisms in Orthopedic Surgery
Oregon State University
White 411
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
April 13, 2017
Tendon-transfer surgeries are commonly performed for a variety of conditions such as stroke, palsies, trauma, and congenital defects.  The surgery involves re-routing a tendon from a nonfunctioning muscle to a still-functioning muscle to partially restore lost function.  However, a fundamental aspect of the current surgical procedure, namely the suture that attaches the tendon(s) to the muscles, leads to poor hand function in physical interaction tasks such as grasping, because of the fixed 1:1 coupling the suture produces between the muscles and tendons.  This project investigates the use of miniature passive differential mechanisms, such as pulleys and links, as implants to attach the muscles and tendons in place of the direct suture in a hand tendon-transfer surgery.  Results from biomechanical simulations and cadaver experiments show that the modified surgical procedure results in significantly better hand function in terms of finger movement and reduced actuator-force requirement in grasping tasks.
Ravi Balasubramanian is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at Oregon State University, where he directs the Robotics and Human Control Systems Laboratory.  He received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National University of Singapore with top honors and his PhD from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in 2006.  He did a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in computational neuroscience and biomechanics.  During this time, he also led a personal-robotics project (a collaboration with Intel Labs Seattle).  He then was a research scientist in Yale University developing novel mechanisms for robotic hands.  Dr. Balasubramanian has received several awards including the National Science Foundation CAREER grant, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Neuromusculoskeletal Injuries Research Award, Best Manipulation Paper Finalist award from the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in 2016, the Outstanding Researcher Award from the NIH National Center for Simulation in Rehabilitation Research, the Best Student Paper finalist award at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in 2004.  The key principle behind Dr. Balasubramanian's work is to simultaneously draw inspiration from the human control system to advance robotic systems and to use robotic systems to develop a stronger understanding of the human body and improve quality of life.
Website: http://web.engr.oregonstate.edu/~balasubr/