Marcia O’Malley: Natural Sensory Feedback for Intuitive Prosthesis Control
Able bodied individuals can easily take for granted the dexterous capabilities of the human hand. Key to our ability to easily manipulate common objects are the rich sensory cues conveying force and object properties, often without need for visual attention to the task. For amputees, these manipulations can require significant time, visual attention, and cognitive effort due to the lack of sensory feedback even in the most advanced prosthetic hands. In this talk I will describe our approach to improving dexterous manipulation with prosthetic hands, and a series of experiments that have provided new insight on the importance of providing natural sensory feedback cues to the residual limb for prosthesis users. I will also briefly describe the other major research thrusts of my group, including robotic rehabilitation of the upper limb following stroke and incomplete spinal cord injury, and quantitative assessment of motor skill for training in virtual environments, with a special focus on endovascular surgical procedures.
Marcia O’Malley received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1996, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1999 and 2001, respectively. She is currently Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Computer Science at Rice University and directs the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Additionally, she is the Director of Rehabilitation Engineering at TIRR-Memorial Hermann Hospital, and is a co-founder of Houston Medical Robotics, Inc. Her research addresses issues that arise when humans physically interact with robotic systems, with a focus on training and rehabilitation in virtual environments. In 2008, she received the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University. O’Malley is a 2004 ONR Young Investigator and the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2005. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and currently serves on the editorial board for the ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics.