News & Announcements

Dr. Schearer receives grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education

Dr. Eric Schearer, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has received $249,569 from the Ohio Department of Higher Education for the two-year project “Controlling Functional Reaching with Eye and Head Movements of People with High Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries”. Dr. Schearer will collaborate with Dr. Hongkai Yu, from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr. Andrew Slifkin from the Department of Psychology of CSU, as well as with Dr. Kevin Kilgore, Dr. Kimberly Anderson, and Dr. Anne Bryden, of the MetroHealth Medical Center, and Mr. Ian Burkhart, a Consumer Advocate.

The need for restoration of arm and hand function exists for people with high cervical spinal cord injuries. There are several technologies that have potential to restore reaching and grasping function, but they require brain surgery or significant effort from the user to produce simple movements. Eye and head movements tracked by wearing eyeglasses instrumented with small infrared cameras can potentially provide continuous and natural control of reaching and grasping without brain surgery.

The objective of this pilot project is to develop methods that would allow individuals with high tetraplegia to control the movements of a helper robot using an existing eye and head tracking system. The long-term goal is to develop and commercialize technology that allows people with high cervical spinal cord injuries to independently feed and groom themselves by controlling a wearable robot on their own arms via functional electrical stimulation.