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Can you tell us what you do?

Padmaja Kankipati recently broke a new HERL record by successfully recruiting and testing 100 participants on site for an anthropometric research study to help standards committees, government officials and designers improve accessibility for wheeled mobility users in their environments.

What did you study?

Padmaja joined HERL in 2006 in pursuit of a PhD in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh. She earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Medical Electronics from Vishweswariah Technical University in India and a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Aalborg University in Denmark.

Can you tell us a bit about your research?

With help from her fellow HERL graduate students, Padmaja collected anthropometric data from 100 wheeled mobility device users in Pittsburgh across the USA to add to the IDEA Center’s national database at the University at Buffalo. Anthropometry is the study of human body dimension. Data points on each participants’ body were landmarked and then digitized with an electromechanical device to obtain structural and functional reach information. Task specific maneuverability data were also collected. Padmaja is conducting her doctoral dissertation research on a second research study where she collects biomechanical data on people with spinal cord injury during several types of wheelchair transfers.

How will this research contribute to healthcare delivery?

This information could be used to develop safer ways to transfer, resulting in less secondary pain and injury for wheelchair users. Alicia Koontz, Ph.D., RET is the lead investigator for both the anthropometric database study and the transfer study, as well as Padmaja’s academic mentor. Padmaja hopes to graduate in December of 2009 and bring her knowledge of the wheelchair biomechanics field back to her home country of India.