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Massachusetts Awards SEAS $3 Million for Wearable Tech Research

Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is located at the school's new Science and Engineering Complex in Allston.
Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is located at the school's new Science and Engineering Complex in Allston. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Felicia He and James R. Jolin, Crimson Staff Writers

The Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state agency, has awarded Harvard $3 million to support the development of next-generation robotics and wearable technologies.

The funding, announced in a March 2 press release, will support four research projects under a Harvard and Boston University initiative to commercialize research on medical devices for stroke recovery, injury prevention, and other rehabilitation approaches.

The research projects are housed within Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The researchers from both schools will collaborate at the Harvard Move Lab, a SEAS initiative that brings together engineers, clinicians, and researchers from wide-ranging disciplines.

“The thing that we are focused on doing is taking this interesting research and putting the technical maturity behind it that is necessary to move it out of a lab and into a real-world application,” Harvard Move Lab Executive Director David Perry said. “So we’re focused on translating research that can help improve people's lives.”

The project also includes two industry partners, Rewalk Robotics and Imago Rehab, both of which develop technology to assist those with mobility issues.

Imago Rehab, a startup that emerged from the Harvard Biodesign Lab one year ago, aims to develop a “telerehabilitation” service that utilizes wearable technology to remotely assist individuals with neurologic conditions, according to Clinical Programming Lead Kristin Nuckols.

“More than 5 million Americans live with some degree of upper limb paralysis after stroke and we hope to improve the lives of many in this population with our unique solution,” Nuckols wrote.

Nuckols added that the grant and collaboration with the Harvard Move Lab will enable Imago Rehab to potentially license new technologies for upper extremity stroke rehabilitation.

In the SEAS press release, Massachusetts Governor Charlie D. Baker '79 lauded the work of Massachusetts researchers, adding that this latest grant will improve patient care across the globe.

“Massachusetts is a global leader in both technology and healthcare because of our support for important research, the ability to leverage our network of partnerships, and our constant focus on fostering innovation,” he wrote.

“With these additional resources, we can advance the development of new assistive devices that will have applications for patients around the world,” Baker added.

—Staff writer Felicia He can be reached at felicia.he@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer James R. Jolin can be reached at james.jolin@thecrimson.com.

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