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On the Front Lines Combatting Disease

Scientific breakthroughs and cutting-edge discoveries by CSU faculty researchers are helping cure disease, improve quality of life and even save lives.

Helping Children Walk Again

Cerebral palsy afflicts 17 million people worldwide. This includes approximately one in every 300 children, roughly one-third of whom have limited or no walking ability.

To help restore their mobility, CSU engineers are developing a device known as an orthosis or exoskeleton.

Professor Jerzy Sawicki, CSU’s vice president of research, is working with Parker Hannifin to develop, design and commercialize a pediatric exoskeleton for children ages 6 to 11, which could assist those suffering from cerebral palsy as well as paralysis and diseases such as spina bifida, myopathy and neuropathy.

The device would be the first powered, lower-limb orthotic specifically designed for children. In addition to helping them learn to walk, it would provide essential data that could improve future treatment for children and adults with mobility issues.

Dr. Sawicki, the Donald E. Bently and Agnes Muszynska Endowed Chair, professor of mechanical engineering, and director of CSU’s Center for Rotating Machinery Dynamics and Control, is an expert in mechanical systems design. He developed a novel, patented actuator for the hips and knees that is quiet yet powerful enough to enable children who are paralyzed to walk again.

Electrical engineering and computer science professor Dan Simon is using his expertise in computer intelligence to tune the orthosis so the child’s gait is both safe and natural. The orthosis controller will be optimized with particle swarm optimization, an intelligent system based on the flocking behavior of birds and insects.

Cleveland State is partnering with Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and the Parker Hannifin Corporation to commercialize the device.

Improving Balance in MS Patients

A new CSU study has identified a potential link between lower levels of vitamin D and a higher risk for falls in patients with multiple sclerosis. The research was presented at the Conference of Rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis in Amsterdam.

Alumna Megan Landean, who conducted the research as part of her master’s thesis in exercise science, has been interested in MS since elementary school when her aunt was diagnosed. “I was saddened with how the disease took its course,” she says.

“MS patients suffer from impaired balance and muscle control which makes walking, standing and even sitting difficult and leads to increased risk of falls and related injuries,” she adds. “Lower vitamin D levels are common in MS patients so we wanted to assess how this could be impacting balance control. The results suggest a substantial link between the two and could lead to better treatment and a better quality of life for these individuals.”

Landean, in collaboration with her faculty advisor Douglas Wajda, visiting assistant professor of health and human performance, studied 18 MS patients and compared their physiological profile assessment, which measures fall risk, and vitamin D levels. Moving forward, they hope to conduct additional studies with larger patient groups and variable testing times that could account for seasonal changes in vitamin D levels. They also hope to disseminate the results to other researchers who could use the data to assist in the development of treatments designed to address vitamin D deficiency in MS patients.

They conducted their research through CSU’s Human Performance Laboratory in partnership with Case Western Reserve University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Landean, MEd ’17, is now an adjunct professor in CSU’s College of Education and Human Services and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in exercise science with a focus on multiple sclerosis. 

Aiding Alzheimer’s Patients

The Alzheimer’s Association awarded Linda Francis, associate professor of sociology, a 2018 New to the Field Research Grant. The funding will support the development of new computer technology to reduce distress among persons with Alzheimer’s disease by improving their interactions with professional care providers.

Research has shown that persons with Alzheimer’s still feel like the same person they have always been and expect others to treat them accordingly. If care providers treat them merely as patients, cognitive impairment can make it difficult for them to express their frustration, which can lead to agitation or depression. The virtual interaction computer guide Dr. Francis and her team are creating will train professional care providers to better interact with patients as individuals, based on their affective, rather than cognitive, memory.

Dr. Francis presented preliminary results from her research at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Also in this Issue...

Homecoming 2018

Were you one of the many alumni who came home to CSU for Homecoming 2018? For those that came from near and far, thank you. We enjoyed talking with you, sharing memories and showing you all that CSU has become. Read more >>

Alumna Helps Free Innocent Man From Prison

A phone call to an alumna began a five-year legal process culminating in the exoneration of a man who had spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.  Read more >>

On the Road Again

The CSU Alumni Association is on the road again, reconnecting with graduates near and far.  Read more >>

Second Act

Thinking of a new career, starting a business, or finding that meaningful volunteer role? Second Act, a new educational series sponsored by the CSU Alumni Association, explores lifestyle, health, finance and volunteerism issues to help you navigate and find your place in the changing seasons of life.  Read more >>

Stay Connected With Tassl

Manage your alumni experience through your smartphone with Tassl, the official app of the CSU Alumni Association.

Available through the Apple App Store and Google Play, Tassl allows you to connect to friends and classmates, join local network groups, RSVP for alumni events, and much more.

Use the app for event check-in and earn valuable points which can be redeemed for alumni gear and official swag. To download Tassl, visit your app store or www.csualumni.com/tassl. Download Tassl >>

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