Please tell us about yourself
Restoration of hand and arm function to people with tetraplegia as a result of damage to the spinal cord in the neck through the use of functional electrical stimulation
Lalitha Venugopalan is a biomedical engineer currently working in the field of rehabilitation engineering (Functional Electrical Stimulation or FES in particular). She was born in Chennai, India and completed her primary and secondary schooling from Kolkata and Rajkot, India. She completed her Bachelors in Engineering in Biomedical and Instrumentation from Saurastra University, Gujarat in 2007 and completed her masters from VIT University, Tamil Nadu in 2010.
Tell us about your research
She joined Bournemouth University in 2013 and is currently pursuing her PhD with the Faculty of Science and Technology. For her PhD, Lalitha is developing an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) based four channel FES device that can be used by people with tetraplegia to restore some of their hand and arm function. The user performs specific shoulder movements which are sensed by the IMU. The signals from the IMU is sent to the FES device which then decodes these signals and delivers the electrical impulses to the corresponding muscles thereby enabling the user to perform a specific hand movement.
How does your research benefit the community?
Her bachelor’s project focused on the development of EMG Biofeedback Unit which recorded the electrical signals during muscle activity and rang a buzzer when the contraction of muscle was above the threshold value. The ringing buzzer provides evidence of improvement in the muscle function and encourages the user to continue the treatment programme. Her master’s project focused on developing a novel method for noise cancellation that could be used in Cochlear Implants thereby, enabling the subject to hear better. She worked as a lecturer in a reputed engineering college in India before moving to the UK. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the Bournemouth University.