Advanced Platform Technology Center
Sandra Hnat, D. Engr.
Exoskeletons, Assistive Technology, Balance Control and Fall Mitigation/Prevention, Biologically-Inspired Control
Dr. Sandra Hnat received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (2013) and Doctor of Engineering (2018) from Cleveland State University. Since 2018, she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University in the Biomedical Engineering Department. She is also an investigator with the Advanced Platform Technology Center in the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research focuses on developing balance controllers for powered exoskeletons for users with lower-limb paralysis.
Dr. Hnat has developed a center of mass (COM) estimation algorithm using accelerometers and other sensors to estimate whole body COM during standing under the effect of external and internal perturbations. This COM information can be a powerful feedback signal for a balance controller in commercial exoskeletons, as well as a hybrid system that combines external motors with neural stimulation. She has been working to integrate this COM estimation algorithm on her team’s Motor-Assisted Hybrid Neuroprosthesis (MAHNP) and has been investigating using powered ankles to assist with maintaining upright balance during perturbations.
Recently, Dr. Hnat and her team have been exploring options to improve the safety of powered exoskeletons for users who have lower-limb paralysis by designing and evaluating new methods to prevent, detect, and recover from a fall while minimizing injury to the user. She intends to first use 3D musculoskeletal simulations and experiments with an instrumented crash-test dummy to investigate exoskeletal configurations that would reduce impact at the joints during falls.
Figures: (Right) Able-bodied participant wearing powered ankle joints to assist In counteracting perturbations and maintaining upright posture
|Published Work: PubMed, Research Gate|