Gannon University’s Biomedical Engineering Program Receives $25,000 Phillips Grant

Posted: September 26, 2016

Students in Gannon University's biomedical engineering program will soon have a powerful diagnostic tool for the analysis and treatment of persons with gait problems.

Using funds provided by a $25,000 grant from the Dr. & Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, the University will acquire measurement instruments known as force plates.

Positioned on the ground, these instruments monitor the amount of force applied when taking a stride and measure the effect of environmental factors such as the stiffness of footwear and the friction of the surface, as well as biomechanical factors such as the speed of the movement and the stiffness of muscles. The force plates will be integrated with motion-tracking technology, including an electromyographer, to create a system that will enable students and faculty to evaluate the performance of individuals with gait problems.

Using ODIN, a software suite that can recognize and synchronize the signal from each instrument, biomedical engineering students and faculty can analyze and model movement deficiencies that arise from neuro-muscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease and stroke; as well as traumas to bones or ligaments caused by sports-related injuries or a result of a surgical procedure. Students in Gannon's physical therapy and occupational therapy programs will use the data from the force plates and other instruments to confirm the presence of specific impairments and the impact of the prescribed treatments.

"I'm gratified that the Phillips foundation recognized the impact their gift will have on Gannon's academic programs and the Erie community in general," said Davide Piovesan, Ph.D., director of the University's biomedical engineering program. "Because of this grant, the biomedical engineering program can act as a bridge between the data acquired and the clinical expertise of our colleagues in the health science departments through the computer modeling of movements."