I³R Researchers Awarded Women's Giving Circle Grant

Mark Power, Andres Pena, Aliyah Shell, and Ranu Jung at the Women's Giving Circle Award Ceremony
Laura Fickett

Mark Power, Andres Pena, Aliyah Shell, and Ranu Jung at the Women's Giving Circle Award Ceremony

Researchers at the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research were awarded $10,000 by the Women's Giving Circle to study the use of neuro-haptic feedback in virtual reality for sensorimotor rehabilitation.

Assistant research professor Andres Pena and doctoral fellow Aliyah Shell are collaborating on the project "Making 'Sense' of Sensorimotor Rehabilitation in Virtual Reality." They identified a need for sensorimotor rehabilitation therapy that is accessible and meets the demand for training frequency, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual reality, with its relatively low cost and portability, appears to hold great promise for telerehabilitation, enabling patients to train and rehabilitate at home.

Pena and Shell will utilize technologies developed by the Adaptive Neural Systems Group at I³R and will collaborate with the AgeingOn Research Group at the University of the Basque Country in Spain and Dr. Ana Rodriguez Larrad to investigate the role sensory feedback plays in the use of interventions such as exoskeletons and restoring motor function.

"I am excited to be part of this innovative team working to bridge the sensory gap in virtual reality with our novel technology, ExtendedTouch." Shell said. "Given the amount of people in the nation who live with sensorimotor impairments and lack access to rehabilitation, the research outcome of this work will have the potential to make substantial impacts on our society. I want to thank the Women's Giving Circle for seeing the vision of our work and I3R for the continued support."

The Women's Giving Circle is made up of U of A alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university and was created to encourage women as philanthropic leaders. Members of the circle make yearly contributions to generate funds for the annual awards, and these contributions are pooled together and awarded to selected recipients who complete the grant proposal process. 

Pena and Shell will use the funds to purchase virtual/augmented reality headsets, neurostimulation electrodes and prototyping supplies, and to support study-participant compensation funds.


Andy Albertson, director of strategic communications and engagement
Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research
479-575-6111, aalbert@uark.edu


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