Studies how the brain and body coordinate locomotion to develop rehabilitation approaches

Helen Huang,

Assistant Professor

Dept of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

407-823-3189

Office: Eng 1, Room 415

She is Also:

Director, Biomechanics, Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (BRaIN) Lab

“I hope our research into how the brain and muscles work together helps the aging community maintain mobility and reduce fall risk.”

Research

As the elderly population continues to grow, so will emergency rooms visits due to falls. Huang and her research team wants to help seniors maintain their mobility to help prolong their ability to move independently. The team’s interdisciplinary research integrates neuroscience and biomechanics, using sophisticated technology to collect brain-wave and muscle-activity data. Their aim is to better understand how people maintain their balance and adapt their movement patterns to disruptions during walking and exercise.

Societal Impact

As an athlete, Huang has been involved in basketball, track, running and table tennis. A powerful source of joy throughout her life, her research mission is to provide others with that same feeling of pleasure in movement.  Huang strives to gain an understanding of how changes in an aging brain affect walking and balance by investigating brain activity in young and older adults during walking and exercise.

Graduate Students and Achievements

Advising six master’s students and two doctoral students

Education

Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

M.S. Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Current Projects

The UCF Biomechanics Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (BRaIN) Lab is one of the few research facilities in the world that investigates brain activity during walking and exercise. For a National Institute of Health project, Huang’s team is studying perturbations applied in a variety of locomotor tasks, observing the brain adapts gait patterns to recover from losses of balance during walking. The Life Project, a secondary research focus, involves measuring brain activity, muscle activity, body movement as young and older adults walk on a treadmill to understand how changes in an aging brain affect walking and balance. Huang also is developing new robotic exercise devices for gait rehabilitation.

Courses She Teaches

BME 6215: Advanced Biomechanics

BME 3211: Engineering Biomechanics

BME 6500: Bioinstrumentation

BME 6935: Topics in Biomedical Engineering

Featured Video

Laboratory

UCF Biomechanics Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (BRaIN) Lab

Lab Equipment and Capabilities

Instrumented treadmill with pitch/sway capability (Motekforce Link, M-Gait)

Motion capture system (Optitrack, 22 cameras)

Electromyography (Biosemi ActiveTwo, 128 channel EEG system and 32 channel daisy chain option)

Electromyography (Delsys TrignoIM, 16 sensors)

Inertia Measuring Units (Delsys TrignoIM, 16 sensors)

Robotic recumbent stepper

Qubit Q-Track metabolic system

Lockheed Martin FORTIS exoskeleton

Discoveries/Publication Highlights

Huang has 14 publications including Current Biology, Journal of Neural Engineering, and Journal of Neuroscience H-index: 9

In the News

March 7, 2018 – NSM Today: BRaIN Lab at UCF studies brain, muscle interactions to advance rehabilitation

Nov. 27, 2017 – UCF Knightly News: Walking Research

Oct. 30, 2017 – UCF Today: Engineering Grant Seeks to Predict Falls — and How to Stop Them

Awards/Grants

Invited participant to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering China-America Frontiers of Engineering, 2019

National Institutes of Health R01 for “Adaptation of Brain and Body Responses to Perturbations during Gait in Young and Older Adults,” principal investigator, 2017-2022

National Institutes of Health Training in Grantsmanship for Rehabilitation Research Fellow, 2017

UCF Office of Research and Commercialization In-House Research Award for “Brain Dynamics of Losses of Balance during Walking,” principal investigator, 2017