Biomedical engineering intern integrates rehabilitation, robotics, and social media

Globalink Research Intern Laura Jaquez is helping stroke patients at the University of British Columbia

He had applied the previous year and undertook a research project in Montreal.

Equipped with first-hand information from her friend, Laura submitted her application. She was matched on a project supervised by Dr. Mike Van der Loos, in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Mechanical Engineering department. Laura is working in the CARIS lab, which is undertaking experimental research to advance the science of human-robot interaction.

Laura’s project focuses on persons with hemiplegia, which is paralysis on one side of the body following a stroke or other cerebral event. She works closely with a diverse team of professors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students who specialize in mechanical, electrical, biomedical and systems engineering, as well as computer science. Laura and her fellow UBC researchers are integrating robotic assistance and social media gaming into rehabilitation exercises. This integration provides a rewarding and fun user experience for patients, while tracking their progress in the comfort of their homes.

Typical exercises don’t provide much motivation for patients,” Laura explains. “With this project, we’re tracking patients’ engagement to see if they are more motivated to continue their rehab with social media games.”

When she’s not doing research, Laura has been taking advantage of Vancouver’s celebrated outdoor amenities. “I think I’m falling in love with this city. I’ve been here for four weeks and I’ve already visited several beaches, tried paddle boarding in Vanier Park, and hiked the Grouse Grind.”

Laura has also adapted well to her new research environment:  “I’m learning new things every day. I’m working differently than I was used to in Mexico, and it’s challenging, but I have a great support team to help me achieve my goals. I’m so thankful to be involved in such a great environment, and the expertise level of my lab mates has impacted my points of view and work style.”

Her time in Canada has also opened up new possibilities for her future:  “Canada is very forward thinking in its approach to research. Before I came here, I thought I would enter the workforce. Now I’m considering graduate school, especially in Canada.”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for their support of the Globalink research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba

Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including Brazil’s le Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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