Researcher on 'Precision Orthotics in Stroke, MS and CP'

Updated: 27 days ago
Deadline: tomorrow

Delft University of Technology, in collaboration with Leiden University Medical Center, has a 2-year position for a motivated (postdoctoral) researcher on the development of a novel orthosis to improve orthotic care within rehabilitation medicine.

As a researcher on the project you will oversee the design and development of a new revolutionary ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) and provide scientific foundations and constraints to this development. You will develop and evaluate the orthosis in collaboration with the Leiden University Medical Center and our industrial and health care partners. Your duties will be diverse, ranging from design and co-creation (with patients and stakeholders), experiments on motor control, to gait analysis in patients, writing scientific papers and presenting your work at international conferences.

Upper motor neuron diseases, like stroke and cerebral palsy, can gravely reduce ankle mobility. Current treatment involves AFOs that improve gait, however also incapacitate neuromuscular rest capacity by adding even more joint stiffness, neglecting neuromuscular control rest capacity and increasing energy cost of walking by the necessary compensations to overcome the ankle stiffness.

Proposed solution: In addition to positive stiffness (as conventional orthoses apply), our AFO “Hermes” can also apply negative stiffness, which restores the net joint stiffness, normalizes dorsiflexion, and regains muscular control over the ankle joint (Rodriguez et al. 2018). Active muscular control of the ‘enabled’ patient adds to the work output of the ankle.

The aim of the project is to further develop the Hermes to allow for home use. The project is part of the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative (IMDI) call “Technology for Sustainable Healthcare: Demonstration projects” by ZonMw/NWO-TTW and the Stichting Life Sciences Health (LSH) – TKI, and consists of both the technical development of the AFO and clinical studies to validate the orthosis in patients with neuromuscular diseases. You will be involved in the design of the orthosis to improve safety and durability (together with InteSpring) as well as in the clinical studies consisting of 3D gait analysis and single-joint assessment using diagnostic robotics (together with Leiden University Medical Center). We offer a challenging learning environment in a multidisciplinary team with clinical, technical and biomedical experience.

The project’s ambition is to reduce health care needs for chronic patients by improving ankle mobility and reducing complications of spastic paresis (e.g., contractures, high energy expenditure). Improved active mobility will secondarily enhance daily activities, physical and cognitive condition, and quality of life.

The research activities within the Biomechanical Engineering Department ( ) are carried out on a world-class international level, focusing on a range of topics spanning medical instruments and safety, neuromuscular control, human-machine interaction, bio-inspired robotics, tissue biomechanics and biomaterials.

The Biomechatronics and Human-Machine Interaction Chair, led by Prof. Frans C.T. van der Helm, is internationally recognized as one of the world leaders in the field of neuromuscular control. The Chair develops fundamentally new concepts of neuromuscular control, involving large-scale musculoskeletal models like the shoulder, elbow and hand, and recordings of the reflexive feedback and reflex modulation. Applications are in neuro-rehabilitation, automotive engineering, tele-manipulation, upper extremity prosthetics and aerospace engineering.

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