Researchers Phyllis Richey, PhD, professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Physical Therapy and Pediatrics, and Kunal Singhal, PhD, PT, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), have been awarded $1,998,325 to study the effectiveness of a new robotic exoskeletal technology for use by military service members and veterans that have limited mobility due to a neurologic injury.
Kunal Singhal, PhD, PT
Funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, the Department of Defense grant will allow Richey and Singhal to conduct the "Veterans and Active Duty Service Members Leading Orthotic Research" (VALOR II) clinical study at UTHSC. The aim of the study is to determine if a Powered Ankle-Foot Orthosis (PAFO), in addition to a traditionally prescribed fixed ankle-foot orthosis (AFO), will improve walking efficiency, safety and quality of life for the typical service member or veteran who has suffered a neurologic injury resulting in lower extremity impairment. The study will receive funding for three years.
Advancements in technology utilizing powered exoskeletons are being developed to help soldiers carry heavy loads and facilitate walking longer distances. Although these recent orthotic innovations are groundbreaking, the traditional AFO often prescribed for people who have lower limb impairment resulting from a neurologic injury has not had any major innovation for more than 30 years.