Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering

Participant walks with crutches, leaving his walker and wheelchair behind

Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research

Taking Steps Toward Recovery

We enhance quality of life for individuals with motor disabilities through translational research and the development of assistive technology that improves mobility and motor function and enhances their ability to participate in school, work, and community activities.  

Laboratory Leadership

participant in research study about balance with an eeg cap on

Restoring Mobility through Gait and Balance Training

Restoring balance and mobility is an important first step toward recovery for individuals with disabilities caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, arthritis and brain injury. Our scientists apply new technologies that advance rehabilitative care, including robotics, functional electrical stimulation, virtual reality, and the unique research capabilities of the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation.

Moving Robotics into Clinical Care

Our scientists have conducted pioneering research in different types of wearable robotics, including the Ekso GT, ReWalk, and Indego. The focus of their robotics research extends beyond restoring mobility to the impact on common complications that affect quality of life, including bone loss, muscle weakness, loss of bowel and bladder function, chronic pain, and sexual dysfunction.

Join a Robotics Study

Participant in Ekso suit with Dr standing near by

Healing Children with TBI Through Technology

Our research shows that robotic exoskeleton training has the potential for tremendous impact on walking ability, community participation, and quality of life for individuals with brain injury. In a study of adolescents and young adults, participants train in the robotic exoskeleton and wear a Fitbit to record their daily activities. Scientists evaluate the brain changes that occur during motor recovery using a portable, noninvasive technology called fNIRS (functional near infrared spectroscopy). Understanding the changes in brain activity after injury and during recovery helps us design more effective rehabilitation protocols..

Demonstrating Efficacy of Rehabilitation Interventions

During her visit to the Foundation, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy witnessed the impact of Kessler Foundation's research first hand. She received a demonstration of the efficacy of several rehabilitation interventions including spacial neglect and an exoskeleton worn by Natalie B., a young woman with paralysis caused by traumatic spinal cord injury.

First Lady of NJ posing with Kessler Foundation scientists

Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey, visits Kessler Foundation's Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center. Pictured left to right: Rodger DeRose, President and CEO, Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, Tammy Murphy, John DeLuca, PhD, Peggy Chen, PhD, Gail Forrest, PhD, and Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD.

First lady of NJ sits with Nancy Chiaravalotti at RONIC visit

Tammy Murphy sits with Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, Director of Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Centers.

First lady of NJ tries on prism adaptation glasses, which are used for spatial neglect after stroke

Tammy Murphy tries on prism adaptation glasses used for spatial neglect after stroke.

First Lady of NJ watches as a research participant demonstrates the Robotic exoskeleton

Tammy Murphy watches as Natalie B., a research participant who has sustained a spinal cord injury, walks in our robotic exoskeleton.

First lady of NJ watches on as a research participant demonstrates a robotic exoskeleton

Natalie B. demonstrates Kessler Foundation's robotic exoskeleton at Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center.

Angela Smith, Person in red shirt in front of cherry bossoms, smiling at camera, cancer survivor

Helping Cancer Survivors Overcome Fatigue and Weakness

Despite advances in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, many, like Angela Smith, live with fatigue and weakness long after treatment is complete. By studying the mechanisms involved in muscle strengthening, Kessler Foundation scientists are finding new ways to enhance physical conditioning, combat lasting symptoms, and restore active lives. Findings may improve outcomes for cancer survivors, and other populations affected by fatigue and weakness.

kessler logo step and repeat

Engineering Innovative Solutions

Being active in the community requires adaptability. To prepare individuals for navigating different types of environments, scientists are testing a virtual reality-based treadmill called the C-Mill, which simulates conditions encountered in daily life. By incorporating mobile technologies such as wireless EEG, researchers are deepening their knowledge of the brain signals that control walking, and developing targeted treatments for improving balance, gait, and cognitive function.

Ghaith Androwis, PhD, customizes assistive devices for wheelchair users with a 3D printer

Improving Mobility for Children with Disabilities

Finding solutions for improving mobility for children with disabilities requires a tailored approach to rehabilitation research. In collaboration with Children’s Specialized Hospital, researchers are testing ways to use 3D printing to customize assistive devices, and studying ways to minimize physical stress for young wheelchair users, enabling them to engage safely in school and community life.  



  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Gail Forrest, PhD a panelist at Kessler Foundations' REBUILDING FUTURES FOR OUR NATION’S HEROES: Innovations in Research and Employment for Veterans shares her ideas on developing innovative interventions to improve outcomes for people with spinal cord injury.

  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Karen J. Nolan, PhD, discusses robotic exoskeleton technology for gait rehabilitation post stroke.

  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Gail Forrest, PhD, and Karen J. Nolan, PhD, discuss powered robotic exoskeleton research.

  • VIDEO: Watch as one man living with paralysis pushes his manual wheelchair, stops, holds crutches, and suddenly stands as robotics enable him to take steps. He is wearing a robotic, battery-powered exoskeleton. But what matters most is that this man can now walk. The impossible no longer exists.

  • VIDEO: Monitored by scientists at Kessler Foundation, six people with spinal cord injuries tested Ekso, the new robotic exoskeleton that enables wheelchair users to stand and walk.

  • VIDEO: In this TedxHerndon talk, Karen J. Nolan, PhD, discusses the use of robotics for stroke rehabilitation, explaining how to re-train the body's biomechanics.

Volunteers Join a Study

Volunteers are the Heart of Research

Provide your information below and someone from our recruitment team will contact you about research opportunities. Learn more.

Join a Study

Join a Study Form

Volunteers are the Heart of Research

Provide your information below and someone from our recruitment team will contact you about research opportunities.  Learn more.

Join a Study

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Cancer Ribbon

Improving Outcomes for Cancer Survivors

Researchers at Kessler Foundation are studying a new way to help breast cancer survivors who experience weakness and fatigue long after their treatment has ended.