Dr. Kat M. Steele
Kat M. Steele, is the Albert S. Kobayashi Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington. She leads the Ability & Innovation Lab, which integrates dynamic musculoskeletal simulation, motion analysis, medical imaging, and device design to understand and support human mobility (steelelab.me.uw.edu). She earned her BS in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. To integrate engineering and medicine, she has worked in multiple hospitals including the Denver Children’s Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. For her research and innovations, she has been awarded a Career Development Award in Rehabilitation Engineering from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation CAREER Early Faculty Development Award, and the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award. In 2020, she co-founded and serves as Associate Director of CREATE (create.uw.edu), the Center for Research & Education on Accessible Technology & Experiences with partners from industry and academia in engineering, rehabilitation medicine, disability studies and information sciences supported by an inaugural $2.5 million investment from Microsoft. She is also the co-founder of AccessEngineering (uw.edu/doit/accessing), an NSF-supported program that supports individuals with disabilities to pursue careers in engineering and trains all engineers in principles of universal design and ability-based design to create more inclusive products, environments, and experiences.
Title: Untangling control: Understanding the role of altered motor control on gait in cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain near the time of birth. The fact that this injury impacts control is obvious. However, given the complex diversity of these injuries and the experiences of early childhood that shape motor pathways, understanding how control is altered for a given child and how these changes impact movement is an incredibly difficult challenge to untangle. In the upper-extremity new stimulation and imaging techniques are helping to characterize motor pathways and their impact on movement after injury. In the lower-extremity, the motor cortex is packed tightly within the longitudinal fissure, making it challenging to access with imaging or even just separate the left and right sides of the body. Further, spinal networks play a much larger role in control of the lower-extremity than the upper-extremity. These challenges pose unique barriers in our capacity to characterize or influence altered control. In this talk, I will untangle and attempt to piece together our current tools and understanding of altered control of gait in cerebral palsy. We’ll examine how current tools in gait analysis, causal modeling, and stimulation can help untangle altered control. We’ll highlight open gaps that need to be addressed to help us not just understand altered control, but leverage this knowledge to support movement and participation. There is still a tangled mess at the end, so we hope you will join with ideas, discussion, and debate.