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Current Topics In Rehabilitation Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Freshman Design and Other Novel Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.431.1 - 12.431.7



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Paper Authors


Paul King Vanderbilt University

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Paul King is a long time member of the engineering faculty at Vanderbilt University. He has an appointment in both Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, with past joint appointments in Anesthesiology and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. His primary area of endeavor is the teaching of design.

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Mark Richter MaxMobility

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Mark Richter is the director of MAX mobility, an assistive technology R&D company, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Richter’s research interests include: wheelchair design, propulsion technique, wheelchair setup, adaptive exercise equipment and recreational technologies. He has taught several project-based courses where student teams designed assistive devices for clients with disabilities

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Current Topics in Rehabilitation Engineering


This paper describes a new introductory one hour freshman module developed to cover current topics in Rehabilitation Engineering. The course was team taught by an engineer/owner of a local mobility aids firm and by a biomedical engineering design instructor. Students who enrolled for the course were presented with the following course description: “Rehabilitation engineering is the application of technologies, engineering methodologies or scientific principles to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in areas that include mobility, communication, education, employment, transportation, independent living, and recreation. We will explore a variety of the current topics in rehabilitation research and development. Engineers from all disciplines contribute to the field of rehabilitation engineering. There are no prerequisites for the course. Career options in this field include research and development, physical rehabilitation medicine, technology development (e.g. wheelchair companies), technology prescription (clinical), and policy development. Course performance will be based on class participation, homework, written reports and oral presentations.” Included with the above lectures on special topics was an assistive design project for a child client who was in need of bathroom aids due malformed arms. Three person teams of the students competed for a best solution to the needs of the client. Other individual oral reports critically reviewed papers in the area of Rehabilitation Engineering.


One hour “modules” on select topics have been developed at Vanderbilt University in an attempt to increase student retention in the freshman year. Incoming first year students are presented with a list of (generally) ten or so modules that they may choose to elect one or none of. Topics available yearly include Engineering Ethics, Electrocardiogram Capture and Analysis, Engineering Scuba Diving, Moore’s Law and Engineering Economics, and the like. Most students (52%) opt to take a module.

Co-Author Richter has sponsored and supervised several senior design (and other) projects for three years prior to this academic year. His projects, due to his career, were all related to rehabilitation engineering. His expertise in this area gave rise to the consideration of either a full semester upper level course in rehabilitation engineering or the development of a freshman module in the area. An administrative decision resulted in the request for an introductory module in rehabilitation engineering. As the design course was taught by co-author King, it was suggested that the course be team taught.

A typical lecture module meets for one hour a week for 15 weeks, unless special arrangements are made to double-up on a given class session. The remainder of this paper will discuss the course content and evaluation of the freshman module “Current Topics in Rehabilitation Engineering” as taught in the fall term, 2006.

Course Content

King, P., & Richter, M. (2007, June), Current Topics In Rehabilitation Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1556

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