Medical Technologies: Biomechanics

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Centre de Recerca en Enginyeria Biomèdica (CREB) UPC

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The Biomechanical Engineering Laboratory (BIOMEC) is a research group of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), and one of the seven research areas of the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB). Our mission at the laboratory is twofold: 1) to develop multibody biomechanical models to explore and simulate the dynamics of human motion for both clinical and sports applications; and 2), to design customised robotic devices for motion assistance and rehabilitation.

We have a fully equipped motion analysis lab that includes an 18-camera motion capture system, 2 force plates, a 16-channel electromyography (EMG) system and a pressure measurement system. We also have a fully equipped workshop where researchers and students design and build all their mechatronic prototypes.

Current research projects focus on 1) developing customised robotic exoskeletons to help patients regain movement following spinal injuries, and 2) exploring human motion in order to evaluate the results of clinical interventions and treatments. The group also investigates other key topics in mechanical engineering and robotics. Our lab staff include mechanical and biomedical engineers who work closely with our clinical and industrial partners to translate the technologies we develop into products that meet real-world needs.

The BIOMEC laboratory actively collaborates with international institutions, including McGill University, Rice University and TU Darmstadt. We are excited to have recently founded our first spin-off, ABLE Human Motion, with the aim of transferring to market the first lightweight, easy-to-use, affordable exoskeleton for people with spinal cord injuries to naturally and intuitively restore their ability to walk.

Research lines

  1. Simulation of human motion dynamics.
  2. Design of robotic assistance devices for neurorehabilitation.

Scientific objectives

  1. To design new robotic assistance and neuroprosthetic systems to improve motion in patients with spinal cord injury and stroke.
  2. To develop predictors of human motion using biomechanical models and mathematical algorithms for optimal control.
  3. To design innovative assistive technology for upper limb rehabilitation.
  4. To clinically validate the rehabilitation technology that we develop in hospitals such as the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital.
  5. To carry out a clinical trial on the efficacy of rehabilitation therapies in patients by analysing human motion in the laboratory.

Area/Field of expertise

Our research forms part of the study and simulation of human motion and, based on this knowledge, the development of technology for rehabilitation.

We have a fully equipped biomechanics laboratory (motion capture system, force plates, EMG, plantar pressure insoles) for human motion analysis. We also have an adjustable speed/incline treadmill. Having collected this information, we use biomechanical software to calculate kinematic (joint angle), dynamic (muscle pairs and force) and energy (metabolic consumption, joint power) parameters. These data can then be used to objectively characterise movement.

As for our robotic devices, we have experts in mechanical design, our own 3D printer and full access to the UPC manufacturing laboratory. We design assistance systems ,combining orthopaedics and robotics. We should also mention our accomplishment with our ABLE exoskeleton, which helps people with lower spinal cord injuries to walk again.

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