Director: Danielle Levac
My research interests stem from my clinical practice experience as a pediatric physical therapist searching for rehabilitation strategies that effectively engage client participation and promote motor learning: namely, permanent, transferable and generalizable changes in motor skill capabilities. I’m motivated by the potential of virtual reality (VR) and active video gaming systems to promote motor learning in pediatric and adult neurological populations.
VR systems that motivate users to control games by means of movement and posture have been embraced within rehabilitation and appear to challenge user’s motor skills. Although these systems incorporate key motor learning principles known to be critical for rehabilitation (such as task-oriented training and multisensory feedback), we know very little about how therapists can use this technology to promote motor learning. Resources to support the integration of VR systems into clinical practice remain scarce.
My goal is to contribute to the sustainable integration of VR and gaming systems into rehabilitation and create knowledge translation resources to support therapists interested in using these technologies in their clinical practice.
My research program includes these 3 pillars:
- Exploring and promoting the use of motor learning strategies, principles and theories within neurologic physical therapy interventions.
- Developing and evaluating motor learning-based neurologic physical therapy interventions involving the use of VR and active video gaming systems.
- Supporting the evidence-based integration of VR and active video gaming systems within physical therapy clinical practice.
Current Lab Members
Emily Chicklis, a recent graduate from Simmons College (now Simmons University) with degrees in Biostatistics and Psychology, is the lab’s new research coordinator. Her primary focuses are participant recruitment and data analysis, and she is excited to be taking on this new role!
Christina Grassie is a third year Behavioral Neuroscience Major at Northeastern who is completing a co-op placement in the lab, January – July 2019. She will be helping with participant recruitment, data analysis, and setting up a new Bouvé Child Health Labs Collaboration.
Murray Sandmeyer is a third year Computer Science and Musical Composition and Technology Major at Northeastern undertaking a co-op placement in the lab, January – July 2018. He programs virtual environments in Unity 3D and d-flow. His interests include game design, image editing, and songwriting.
Connor Bouman is a third year Electrical Engineering Major at Northeastern undertaking a co-op placement in the lab, January – July 2018. He works on preparing software and electrical hardware for the lab’s physical environment transfer tasks.
Winston Ge is a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering student working on the FITBoard, REACH Robot and physical transfer environment projects.
Owen Hughes is a first year Mechanical Engineering student at Northeastern. He is currently working on an Honor’s Early Research Award project developing games in Unity to be controlled by balance platforms.
Johanna Dolleans is a 5th year student in Engineering for Healthcare at the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, France, who is completing a 6 month internship in the lab. She is programming and constructing virtual and physical environment tasks as well as restructuring the FITBoard.
Christina McConney first year Biology major on the pre-med track at Northeastern. Christina is a research assistant on the lab’s Tufts CTSI-funded research project.
Kayla Pinzur is a second year physical therapy student . She is a research assistant for the lab’s Tufts CTSI-funded research project, and additionally assists with data entry and article reviewing.
Caroline Pasyanos is a 3rd year Computer Science and Game Development major who undertook a co-op placement in the lab, July – December 2017. Caroline created virtual environments and tasks in Unity for the HTC Vive.
Yuewen Cao is a 4th year Electrical and Computer Engineering student who undertook a co-op placement in the lab, July – December 2017. Yuewen worked on programming and circuit construction of physical environment transfer tasks in the ReGame-VR lab.
Gilbert Yap is a 5th year Electrical Engineering student who is working on the Robots Encouraging Action in Children (REACH) system.
Todd Roberts is a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student working on the FITBoard project and the physical environment transfer tasks.
Grant Ritter is a fifth year mechanical engineering student at Northeastern. He is currently working on constructing the physical environment transfer task. He will be graduating in May of 2018.
Nina is a physical therapist and doctoral student from Germany completing a PhD in the field of Mixed Reality and Neurorehabilitation at the Technical University in Munich. She is visiting the lab in the fall of 2017 to collaborate on current and new projects.
Gino is a second year Computer Science and Design combined major. He is currently developing virtual reality and rehabilitation games in Unity for the FITBoard project.
Ryan is a first year Computer Science student at Northeastern. He is working to help develop a sensor/software set to track patient progress while playing therapeutical VR games as part of an Honors Early Research Award.
Quan Do is a 4th year Electrical Engineering Student at Northeastern University. He is currently working on the hardware and embedded system for the Wearable Home Activity Monitor (WHAM) project.
Da-Jin is a student and developer with a focus on the systematic design of user experiences, of programs, and of programming languages. He is working on the WHAM project.
Future Lab Members
Please contact Dr. Levac if you are interested in joining the laboratory at this exciting time! Students with diverse backgrounds are welcome – including, but not limited to: physical therapy; occupational therapy; electrical, computer, or mechanical engineering; game design; computer and information sciences; neuroscience; kinesiology; biomechanics; motor control; and psychology.