From brain to muscle, the HPNE Lab identifies, quantifies, and develops human-centric engineering and therapeutic solutions to address traumatic brain injuries, neuromusculoskeletal injuries and disability, deficits in motor control, and brain stress and muscle fatigue by integrating methods and approaches from computational and experimental biomechanics, neuroscience, control theory, artificial intelligence, and human factors engineering.
The primary goal of the Human Performance and Neuro-Engineering Lab (HPNEL) is to study various brain, muscle, and spinal injuries and disabilities, neurorehabilitation, and the human-centric designs of helmets, prosthetics, implants, robotics, and occupational tasks. We aim to provide a computational and theoretical framework to investigate brain and muscle responses to external mechanical loads, with the purpose of creating unprecedented scientific knowledge on multiscale brain injury mechanisms and associated motor impairments. Our expertise lies in computational and experimental biomechanics, computational neuroscience, finite element modeling, OpenSim musculoskeletal modeling, neuromuscular fatigue modeling, brain activation analysis, computer-aided design, and control theory.
Research at the HPNEL includes both experimental and computational approaches. We first study brain-muscle interaction dynamics for a given biomedical problem and then transform the brain-muscle responses into a mathematically-grounded engineering framework. Our research impacts the convergence of engineering and medicine.
Experimental: Biomedical experimentations using biodynamic and neurophysical measurement equipment.
Theoretical: population-specific mathematical and statistical modeling of neuromuscular responses, brain mechano-electrical responses, and spinal kinematics and kinetics.
Simulation: focus on finite element and OpenSim associated in-silico simulations to understand both mechano-physiological and neural effects in order to derive engineering and therapeutic solutions.
The HPNEL is a 1,100 square-feet facility and houses many state-of-the-art facilities, including a motion capture system, biopotential sensors, a physically-interactive virtual reality system, a 32-channel electroencephalogram (EEG), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), 16-channel surface electromyography (EMG), electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors, iso-kinetic strength measurement system, 3D scanner, exoskeletons, haptic devices, treadmill, helmet impact testing setup, helmet roll-off testing setup, eye-tracking system, force plates, and hand and back isometric strength measurement systems. The HPNEL also has ANSYS-LSDYNA finite element platform, OpenSim, SolidWorks, AutoDesk, GeoMagic, BETA CAE, and Image processing Software such as Mimics 24, 3-Matic, SPM, etc. The HPNEL has an active partnership with the TTU Neuroimaging Center to collect CT and MRI scan data to build subject-specific computational models and with the TTU High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC) to develop computational platforms that require high computing power.