SBIR Phase II: Developing a Pivoting-sliding Elliptical Machine for Knee Injury Prevention/Rehabilitation

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Rehabtek, LLC
Wilmette, IL 60091
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project develops a new exercise device for neuromuscular training about the minor/secondary axes to reduce and prevent lower-limb injuries. Considering joints in the lower-limb including knee and ankle are free to flex-extend but with much more limited motions about the minor/secondary axes (leg twisting and side sway at the knee and ankle twisting and side sway), injuries often occur with excessive minor/secondary axis loadings. However, there is a lack of convenient and effective devices that can be used to train minor/secondary-axis neuromuscular control of human lower-limb during functional major-axis stepping/running movements. This project will address the strong exercise and clinical needs and develop a unique minor/secondary-axis exercising device to help subjects improve minor/secondary-axis neuromuscular control and rehabilitate/prevent knee/ankle injuries associated with excessive minor/secondary-axes loadings. Practically, this minor/secondary-axis exercising mechanism can be implemented with many existing exercise machines (elliptical machine, stepper, stair climber, bicycles, and leg press machines) for minor/secondary-axis training. As a powerful clinical evaluation tool, this system can also provide quantitative outcome evaluation. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes the novel training modality, widely used exercise platforms, and focused training protocol. The proposed unique minor/secondary-axis neuromuscular training device may directly help reduce various lower limb injuries. Furthermore, it may benefit multiple joints in the human lower (and potentially upper in a similar way) limbs and it may benefit individuals with minor/secondary-axis impairments in neurological disorders as well as musculoskeletal injuries. Similarly, the widely occurring knee osteoarthritis and leading cause of disability is closely associated with unbalanced/improper frontal plane loadings. The proposed minor/secondary-axis training device will provide a general platform and training strategy to help people better deal with potentially injurious off-axis loadings of the whole lower limbs with quantitative outcome evaluations. Practically, the minor/secondary-axis training can be implemented on various common exercise equipment including elliptical machines, steppers, stair climbers, and bicycles. The minor/secondary-axis training device can be used in hospitals/clinics for post-surgery/injury rehabilitation, and in gym and home settings for injury prevention training as well as rehabilitation. People of various ages and at various sports/activity levels can be trained to better prepare for potentially injurious off-axis loadings and avoid potential injuries.