Public Release: 

New Jersey Health Foundation funds stroke study by Kessler Foundation & Stevens Institute

Researchers at Kessler Foundation and Stevens Institute will test the efficacy of SAFE Orthosis to facilitate recovery of gait symmetry in stroke survivors

Kessler Foundation


IMAGE: Dr. Nolan is senior research scientist in Human Performance & Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ - March 20, 2018 - Karen Nolan, PhD, senior research scientist in Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, will collaborate with Stevens Institute of Technology on a grant from New Jersey Health Foundation. With this $35,000 grant, investigators will develop and test the SAFE (Stevens Ankle-Foot Electromechanical) Orthosis, an adaptive oscillator-based assistive device with sensory stimulation to facilitate recovery of gait symmetry in stroke survivors.

Sensory impairment is common after stroke, occurring in about 60% of individuals. Lower limb sensory dysfunction after stroke has been linked to deficiencies in standing balance, balance during ambulation, and gait speed and symmetry. This study will assess the immediate effects of locomotor training with the SAFE Orthosis in three ambulatory stroke participants and three age-matched healthy controls.

"SAFE Orthosis senses an individual's intentions and desired movements, using electromyogram signals collected by surface electrodes," explained Dr. Nolan. "If proven effective, this intervention may provide a universal standard for improving gait symmetry in stroke survivors. This type of individualized care is key to successful rehabilitation, including fully integrating into work, school, and the community."

Kessler Foundation will conduct single-session tests on each participant as they walk using the new powered orthosis, which is currently being developed at Stevens' Wearable Robotic Systems Laboratory under the leadership of Dr. Damiano Zanotto, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Kessler Foundation research staff will handle recruitment and assist with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of study data, as well as with dissemination and publication of findings.


About Human Performance & Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation

Under the leadership of Guang Yue, PhD, six areas of specialized research are headed by experts in biomechanics, bioengineering, movement analysis, robotics, neurophysiology and neuroimaging. All areas of specialized research contribute to the common goal to improve mobility and motor function so individuals with disabilities can participate fully in school, work, and community activities. Their efforts fuel innovative approaches to address disabling conditions, including brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, arthritis and cancer.

Research is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living & Rehabilitation Research, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Reeve Foundation, New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Injury Research, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, New Jersey Health Foundation, and Children's Specialized Hospital.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has always been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens' education and research. Within the university's three schools and one college, 6,900 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. A range of academic and research programming spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other fields actively advances the frontiers of science and leverages technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. The university is consistently ranked among the nation's elite for return on tuition investment, career services and the mid-career salaries of alumni.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

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Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382;

Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675;

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