Engineering and Biomechanics Research Lab

Lab director – Peter Pidcoe, PT, DPT, PhD

The lab participates in collaborative research in the fields of motor control, biomechanics and human performance. Collaborations include members of the schools of medicine, engineering and nursing, in addition to outside institutions.


  • Motion Monitor Systems: for recording, synchronizing and analyzing data.
  • Bertec Non-conductive and AMTI Force Plates.
  • Electromyography (EMG) Systems.
  • GAITRite™ walkway
  • Eyelink 500Hz eyetracker (SR Research)
  • HMD 250Hz eyetracker (SMI)
  • Rapid prototyping equipment (3D printers, 150W laser cutter, 3D CNC)

Current projects

  • Development of a Robotic Gait Trainer – Cost effective gait trainer targeted for use in a hemi-paretic stroke population.
  • Development of a Prone Progression Crawler – Robotic trainer to assist quadraped ambulation in children with movement disorders and who are visually impaired
  • Visual Feedback Phase Delays – Investigating the impact of visual feedback phase delays during balance tasks
  • Ankle Sprain Prediction – Development of a fatigue monitor to predict performance changes in athletes
  • EMG / man-machine interface – Development of improved prosthetic controls
  • Navigational aids for the blind – Developing navigational aids for the blind population for use in open environments

Past Projects

  • Computational Modeling of the Instantaneous Helical Axis of Rotation of the Knee – Identifying the intersection of the tibial and fibular rotation on the meniscus
  • Botox for Non-surgical Lateral Release in Patellofemoral Pain – Double-blind comparison Botox use in reducing patellofemoral pain
  • Vestibular and Visual Systems Comparison in Elite Athletes – Comparison of developmental differences between female gymnasts and age matched non-gymnasts
  • Balance and Vision Differences in Hearing Impaired Children – Investigating the role of vision in balance and postural control in children with vestibular deficits

Funded proposals

  • VIGOR Study (Virtual Immersive Gaming to Optimize Recovery in Low Back Pain)  Examine the impact of virtual gaming in recovery from LBP. - Collaboration with Ohio University, NIH (PA-16-160), coI, Thomas - PI. 2017-2022
  • RELIEF Study (Researching the Effectiveness of Lumbar Interventions for Enhancing Function Study) – Collaboration with Ohio University. Supplement to a parent R01 NIH R01 AT006978 (The RELIEF Study). The RELIEF Study is an exploratory Phase II randomized clinical trial (RCT) with a nested mechanistic design. 2016-2017
  • SIPPC3 Commercialization – Commercialization of the SIPPC 3 (Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler) – A study designed to de-risk the commercialization of the SIPPC by constructing an optimized prototype, completing a case series research study, and developing a marketing plan.  Quest Innovation Fund – Virginia Commonwealth University, PI. 2016-2017
  • iWalk Rehabilitation Center Study – Continued development of a clinical decision tree for use in a rehabilitation setting. Sheltering Arms Foundation, PI. 2016 – 2019
  • Advanced Microsurgical Trainer - Development of a simulation and capillary pump for use in microsurgical training. The proposed system will collect performance metrics that include time-to-completion and quality-of-repair. Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, coPI - 2018-2019
  • Smart Healthcare - Development of a wearable wireless health monitoring system for promoting recovery after lower limb skeletal injury. Collaborator, Xiao – PI. 2017-2019


  • Patent no. 9,308,414 (issued 4/12/2016) - Titled: Elliptically Based Robotic Gait Trainer (EBRGT)
  • Patent no. 9,060,914 (issued 6/23/2015) - Titled: Spasticity reducing closed-loop force-feedback control for post-stroke GAIT training
  • Patent no. 8,942,874 (issued 1/27/2015) - Titled: Self-Initiated Prone Progression Crawler


  • Britlin O’Shea (MS - BME), 2017 - “Eye movement control: An index for athleticism”
  • Daniel Shull (MS - BME), 2016 - “Altering a Runner’s Foot strike using a Modified Elliptical Trainer”
  • Trisha Massenzo (PhD - BME), 2016 - “An Investigation of Kinetic Visual Biofeedback on Dynamic Stance Symmetry”
  • Joshua Arenas (MS - BME), 2015 - “Evaluation of a Novel Myoelectric Training Device”
  • Lindsay Clayton (MS - BME), 2015 - “The Effects of Fatigue on Lower Extremity Kinetics and Kinematics in Subjects with Known Ankle Instability”
  • Timothy G Coffey (PhD - REMS), 2015 - "Effects of task and gender or lower extremity mechanics" - Currently: Assistant Professor, Longwood University
  • Richard Nuchols (MS - BME), 2013 - “Development of a velocity measuring visual assist haptic display for the blind”
  • Ryan Clingman (MS - BME), 2012 - “Evaluation of a Novel Myoelectric Training Device” - Currently: Product Development Engineer at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems
  • Jeff Frankart (MS - BME), 2012 - “Development of a Closed-Loop Force Reduction Mechanism in a Gait Rehabilitation Device” - Currently: Test Engineer for QubicaAMF
  • Cortney Bradford (PhD - REMS), 2011 - “Is gait training with the elliptically based robotic gait trainer (EBRGT) feasible in ambulatory patients after stroke?” - Currently: Scientist, Army Research Lab, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
  • Kristen Morgan (MS - BME), 2009 - “Use of a Tri-axial accelerometer to detect changes in landing performance associated with fatigue”
  • Harshad Hegde (MS - BME), 2009 - “Visual and vestibular differences in elite athletes” - Currently: Informatics Research Architect at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation
  • Emily Carney (MS - BME), 2009 - “Evaluation of the instantaneous axis or rotation of the tibiofemoral joint with and without pathology”
  • Laura Maple (MS - BME), 2009 - “Evaluation of the effect of Botox on the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome”
  • Evie Burnet (PhD - REMS), 2008 - “Frontal plane pelvic drop in runners: causes and clinical implications” - Currently: Lecturer, Kinesiology and Health Sciences, William and Mary University
  • Dyer Deihl (PhD -  Anatomy), 2007 - “The role of the vestibulo-ocular reflex in balance recovery: changes associated with age” - Currently: Associate Professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis
  • Craig Hoovler (MS - BME), 2006 - “The effect of phase delayed visual feedback on balance” - Currently: Associate at Miles & Stockbridge, PC
  • Cortney Bradford (MS - BME), 2005 - “Mechanical energy estimates on a modified elliptical trainer”
  • David Reese (MS - BME), 2003 - “Development of modified elliptical trainer for efficient lower-limb stroke rehabilitation” - Currently: Associate Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • Mike Madigan (PhD - BME), 2000 - “Biomechanical effects of fatigue during an abrupt change in direction” - Currently: Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M University


  • Susan V. Duff, EdD, PT, OT/L, CHT, Associate Professor in the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy at Chapman University, CA.
  • Stacey Dusing, PhD, PT, PCS, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA.
  • Robbie O'Shea, PT, PhD – Professor, Governors State University, IL
  • James S. Thomas, PT, PhD, Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy, School of Rehabilitation and Communication SciencesJames Thomas, PT, PhD – Ohio University, OH.
  • Dianne T.V. Pawluk, PhD – Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA.

 Media and Video Links:

  • TEDxRVA →  TED talk on innovation and invention, "Trusting your inner child".
  • Smithsonian Innovation Festival →  A VCU PT patent was featured at the Smithsonian.
  • Arron's Wish →  Researchers and students make boy's dream to ride a bike come true.
  • Go-Baby-Go collaboration → Collaboration with Children's Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) to modify battery operated cars for children with disabilities.
  • SIPPC development → Development of a robotic assist device to assist crawling in infants with dissabilities.