Oct. 20, 2016

Contact: Amy Hewes
805-756-6402; ahewes@calpoly.edu

Cal Poly Researchers Awarded $513,000 Department of Defense Grant

SAN LUIS OBISPO – A group of Cal Poly researchers in the field of human motion biomechanics have been awarded a three-year, $513,000 grant by the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity to improve the quality of life for military transtibial amputees.

Combat safety advances such as battle armor and armored vehicles have saved lives, but more soldiers are returning home with below-knee or “transtibial” amputations. And although prosthetic limb design has advanced rapidly, even state-of-the-art prostheses do not completely restore natural biomechanics.

As a result, veterans who use a prosthesis often develop osteoarthritis and joint pain in their remaining limb when they follow common fitness exercise regimens.

The Cal Poly team will focus on identifying exercises that maintain intact limb knee and hip joint and cartilage tissue loads at safe levels and, consequently, prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.

Photo: On bike, graduate student Michael Rumery; right, visiting scholar Harsh Goel; and back, undergraduate Jordan Skaro.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Stephen Klisch is the principal investigator on the project. Collaborators include Scott Hazelwood in Biomedical Engineering, Brian Self and Hemanth Porumamilla in Mechanical Engineering, Robert Clark in Kinesiology, Matt Robinson (Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Otto Schueckler (Central Coast Orthopedic Medical Group), and David Tuttle (Radiology Associates, Templeton, Calif.). French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, Calif. will provide MRI services to the group.

Six mechanical engineering students, in addition, are being funded to lead the DOD research: Alejandro Gonzalez-Smith, Greg Orekhov, Nina Yadlowsky, Jordan Skaro, Michael Rumery and Greg Lane. The project budget includes funds for student stipends and travel money for students to attend conferences.

"The Army project and the Human Motion Biomechanics Lab has given me an opportunity to apply and expand the skills that I've learned while pursuing my undergraduate degree in ways that are impossible to achieve in the classroom,” said Orekhov.

The investigation done by Orekhov and the other researchers has implications beyond the military. “Considering the estimate that there are approximately 100,000 lower limb amputations each year in the U.S, this proposal possesses the broader impact of enhancing quality of life among the substantially greater number of civilian amputees in addition to military amputees,” noted Klisch.

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