Heather Boyco

Mentor: Dr. Carolynn Patten
Department of Physical Therpay
"Research allows us to answer fundamental questions we have of our well-being and of technological limitations. I chose to get involved with research because I wanted to investigate how technology could aid in recovery, helping people relearn specific movements after surgery or disease. "


Mechanical Engineering



Research Interests

  • Robotic Devices
  • Biomechanics


  • Society of Women Engineers
  • American Medical Student Association


  • Noah's Endeavor
  • Terwilliger Elementary Science Projects
  • Habitat for Humanity

Hobbies and Interests

  • Traveling
  • Running
  • Swimming

Research Description

Significance of After Effects for Improving Walking
Chronic stroke survivors experience balance and coordination deficits impairing their walking ability and function. Robotic devices have recently been introduced to improve the efficacy and efficiency of rehabilitation for persons with neurologic disorders including stroke. The focus of this research is to understand the effects of a robotic exoskeleton on over-ground walking and how they may contribute to symmetrical walking patterns. Here we will analyze gait patterns in healthy individuals to quantify the aftereffects of wearing an actuated robotic exoskeleton on one leg. Aftereffects occur following repetitive, controlled movements in novel conditions. Studies suggest that a robotic exoskeleton will induce aftereffects that could be leveraged to help persons post stroke restore symmetrical gait patterns. However, it is not well understood which component is responsible or how to optimize the exoskeleton to maximize the aftereffects and promote generalization outside the robotic environment. Results from this project will provide valuable insights which can be used to improve the use of robotics in rehabilitation to improve walking function in chronic stroke survivors.