Elite Athlete Products, Inc. is Awarded a Phase I STTR Grant From NIH-NICHD to Advance their Rehabilitation System for Post-Stroke Gait Training

Elite Athlete Products, Inc. (EAP) and their academic partners at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University have been awarded a $344,843 Phase I grant from the STTR Program under the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) to support a study of a post-stroke gait mobility/rehabilitation device.


Despite significant advancements in post-stroke medical treatments and rehabilitation interventions, more than half of stroke survivors cannot walk independently in the community. Current rehabilitation devices aimed at restoring walking function are either large and unaffordable or ineffective in improving walking function, creating a significant unmet need for a portable, affordable, and effective gait mobility/rehabilitation device.


EAP is working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to further the development of the NewGait rehab system.


The STTR grant award expands the work performed at Dr. Chandramouli Krishnan’s Neuromuscular and Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory (NeuRRo Lab) housed within the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. The NeuRRo Lab aims to develop effective and efficient rehabilitation methods for individuals with neurological and orthopedic disorders.


“A key issue in stroke rehabilitation is the lack of availability of low-cost, lightweight devices that can be easily taken home to improve therapeutic dosage—an important component for recovery after stroke,” said project lead Dr. Chandramouli Krishnan, Associate Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Michigan Robotics, Biomedical Engineering, and School of Kinesiology. Dr. Krishnan is also a faculty in the U-M Robotics Institute, Michigan Neuroscience Institute, and the University of Michigan-Flint Physical Therapy Department.


Most commercial gait rehabilitation systems often require uninterrupted power sources, which is a significant barrier for rural communities in developing nations. Thus, there is a critical need for non-powered technologies for rehabilitation.


“The NewGait® system is a natural fit for this need, as it is a non-powered, wearable gait rehabilitation system. Hence, we are interested in exploring this as a method to restore gait function in individuals with stroke,” Dr. Krishnan said.


However, the current NewGait® device is not tailored to stroke-specific needs, and the clinical utility has not been verified experimentally. The Phase-I STTR grant will allow EAP to address these gaps by developing a stroke-specific low-cost gait rehabilitation system based on end-user feedback and musculoskeletal modeling.


“Our team is uniquely qualified to perform this research, as we have experts in biomedical and mechanical engineering, stroke rehabilitation, biomechanics and modeling, clinical trials research, and human-centered design. We also are working with a world-class rehabilitation hospital,” said Mr. Adeeko, Founder & CEO of EAP.


The project team at Michigan Medicine includes Drs. Chandramouli Krishnan (Physical Therapist, Biomechanist, Neuroscientist, and Roboticist), Edward S. Claflin (Physiatrist and Stroke Physician), Claire Kalpakjian (Biopsychosocial Scientist and Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychologist), and Alyssa Portelli (Clinical Physical Therapist). The team also includes Dr. Edward P. Washabaugh (Biomedical Engineer, Biomechanist, and Roboticist), an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Wayne State University.


Dr. Krishnan hopes that the project will result in a low-cost system for post-stroke gait rehabilitation and will lay the foundation for developing an evidence-based rehabilitation system that could positively affect the lives of millions of stroke survivors across the globe.


Mr. Adeeko said, “We are thrilled at the opportunity to further our research efforts on our NewGait line of devices. Funding from this award will allow us to continue development and gather pilot data for a larger clinical study.”


The project is funded by NIH NICHD grant R41-HD111289, “NewGait: A Low-Cost Rehabilitation System to Improve Post-Stroke Gait.” The mission of NICHD is “to lead research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all.”


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