Todd Kuiken received his MD/PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University in 1990. He is the Associate Dean for Hospital Academic Affairs at RIC and a Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McCormick School of Engineering and Surgery at Northwestern. Kuiken’s interests include amputation, bioengineering, biophysics, gait disorders, neurosciences, phantom limb pain, prosthetics, rehabilitation/therapy, and spinal cord injury.
Dr Kuiken’s research group is working developing bionic technologies to improve the function of artificial limbs for people with very proximal amputations. The main research focus of the lab is developing a technique using nerve transfers to improve of myoelectric prosthesis control called ‘targeted reinnervation’. By transferring the residual arm nerves in an upper limb amputee to spare regions of muscle it is possible to make new signals for the control of robotic arms. This allows simultaneous control of multiple joints in a natural way. The procedure has been very successful in patients with increases in speed of 50- 500%. Similarly, hand sensation nerves can be directed to reinnervate spare skin in or near the residual limb so that when this skin is touched, the amputee feels like their missing hand is being touched including light touch, graded pressure hot/cold, sharp/dull and vibration. This is an exciting pathway to producing true sensory feedback to amputees from their prosthesis.