I am proud to announce that the publication of this issue of the HERL newsletter marks the third complete year of its’ circulation. When the first edition was released in Spring of 2002, we had about 500 readers. Now, over 1,400 people receive the HERL newsletter, and our distribution list is growing every day. We thank our many dedicated research participants and other newsletter readers for their interest, support, and contributions to this publication.

Our faculty and students have merited several notable awards and achievements since our last update. HERL director Rory Cooper was appointed by the University of Pittsburgh to be the first holder of the Federation of Independent School Alumnae Foundation Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) – Chair for Rehabilitation Engineering. Dr. Cooper’s appointment to this endowed Chair, one of the highest honors any university can bestow, is the result of a dynamic career in the field of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology.

In October Dr. Cooper was invited by VA Central Office to participate in a White House/VA conference entitled, “Emerging Technologies in Support of the New Freedom Initiative: Promoting Opportunities for People with Disabilities.” The conference highlighted Federal support for disabilities, development in science and technology, and innovation leading to new products, businesses, and jobs. The conference also provided a forum for discussing ideas about support for future research and technology development.

This fall, Dr. Cooper accepted an invitation from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to serve for a second two-year term as an Honorary Professor in their Jockey Club Rehabilitation Centre. He was also invited to be an adjunct professor of Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, for 4 years.

In the last newsletter we announced that HERL doctoral student Ian Rice would be competing in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, September 17th -September 28, 2004. He competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m wheelchair races, finishing fourth in the 100 meter race and sixth in the 200 meter race. He was the first American to finish. On Oct. 9th , Ian placed first in the Chicago marathon, beating the 2nd place finisher by 45 minutes. He also placed first in the Detroit marathon on October 24th.

Book Chapters

In Press

Textbook of Rehabilitation Engineering, Toshiyasu Yamamoto, Ph.D., Editor, Ishiyaku Publishers Inc., Tokyo, Japan, in press

Biomechanics of and Interfaces for Wheelchair Mobility, R.A. Cooper, M.L. Boninger, A.M.Koontz, D.M. Spaeth, M.J. Dvorznak, R. Cooper, A. Dobson

Physical Medicine &Rehabilitation Secrets, 3rd Edition, Bryan O’Young MD, Mark Young MD, Steven Steins MD, Editors, Elsevier Press, in press

Wheelchairs: Manual and Power, R.L. Kirby, R.A. Cooper, M.L. Boninger

Assistive Technologies: Catalysts for Adaptive Function, M.L. Boninger, H. Choi, K. Johnson, M.A. Young, S.A. Steins, A. Sears

The Engineering Handbook on Smart Technology for Aging, Disability and Independence, A. Helal, M., Mokhtari and B. Abdulrazak, Editors, John Wiley & Sons. Computer Engineering Series, in press, 2007.

Technology for Successful Aging and Disabilities, A. Karmarkar, E. Chaves, R.A. Cooper

Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration: Biological Material and Methods, W.S. Pietrzak, Editor, Humana Press, in press, 2008.

Muscle Repair After Injury and Disease, F. Ambrosio, Y. Li, A. Usas, M.L. Boninger, J. Huard

Spinal Cord Medicine: Principles and Practice, 2nd Edition, Vernon Lin, M.D., Editor, Demos Medical Publishing, New York, NY.

Wheelchairs and Seating for People with Spinal Cord Injuries, R.A. Cooper, R.M.  Cooper, M.L. Boninger, E. Teodorski, T. Thorman, T. Peleshi

Musculoskeletal Pain and Overuse Injuries, M.L. Boninger, J.L. Collinger, R.A. Cooper, A.M. Koontz

Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation, Carolee J. Winstein, Ph.D., Joel Stein, Richard Harvey, Richard Zorowitz, Richard Macko, Editors, Demos Medical Publishing

Seating, Assisitive Technology, and Equipment (Chapter 35), R.A. Cooper, B. Brewer, R.M. Cooper, K. Hill, P. Karg, A. Karmarkar, A. Lane, R. Little, T. Peleshi


Spinal Cord Injuries: Management and Rehabilitation, S.A. Sisto, E. Druin, M. Sliwinski, Editors, Mosby Elsevier, St. Louis, MO, 2009.

Sports and Recreation for People With Spinal Cord Injuries (Chapter 19), I. Rice, R.A. Cooper, R.M. Cooper, A.R. Kelleher, A. Boyles, pp. 455-477

Wheelchair Skills (Chapter 15), A. Koontz, M. Shea, pp. 351-379

Transfer Techniques (Chapter 8), A. Koontz, E. Druin, pp. 185-208

Wheelchair Standards

The Human Engineering Research Laboratories houses one of the most complete wheelchair testing facilities in the country. The facility is able to conduct a majority of the ISO or ANSI/Resna testing which is required for FDA approval. Both manual and powered wheelchairs can be tested. All manner of destructive and non-destructive testing is available. Testing is conducted on equipment that has been designed and built on site and has become the standard for testing the world round.

Tests range from comparative measurements of turning radii, wheelchair size and seating dimensions to strength testing of armrests, footrests and seat backs to endurance testing of motors, axles and transmissions. Each endurance test subjects the device to three to five years of normal use in a fraction of the time. Not only can the standard tests be run, specialized testing is also available. All test equipment is calibrated on a regular basis to insure accurate data. Innovative approaches to gathering data through electronic and electro-mechanical devices guarantees results that are complete and reliable.

Not only has HERL contributed to the design and construction of wheelchair testing equipment, they are represented on numerous standards committees that draft new and better wheelchair standards. As the world of wheeled mobility expands to meet current and future needs of the population, so must the standards be expanded and revised to provide safe and reliable products to the users who depend on them.

Newer materials and designs that offer safer, lighter and more dependable devices require that standards be constantly updated. The current wheelchair test standards are covered in a two-volume set. Each item is constantly monitored for its acceptability as a viable standard and suggestions for revision are noted and offered at the standards meetings.


Textbook of Neural Repair and Rehabilitation, Michael Selzer, M.D., Leonardo Cohen, M.D., and Fred Gage, Ph.D., Editors, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Wheelchair Design and Seating Technology, R.A. Cooper, R. Cooper, M.L. Boninger, Chapter 11, pp. 147-164

Encyclopedia of Medical Devices and Instrumentation, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2006.

Mobility Aids, R.A. Cooper, E.J. Wolf, D.M. Collins, E.S. Chaves, J. Pearlman, A. Karmarkar, R. Cooper, pp. 544-555.

Exercise in Rehabilitation Medicine, 2nd Edition, W.R. Frontera, Editor-in-Chief, Human Kinetics Publishing, Champaign, IL, 2006.

Elite Athletes with Impairments, R.A. Cooper, M.L. Boninger, I. Rice, S.D. Shimada, R. Cooper, Chapter 21, pp. 332-353.

Designing Smart Homes, J.C. Augusto and C.D. Nugent, Editors, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2006.

Plans and Planning in Smart Homes, R. Simpson, D. Schreckenghost, E.L. Lopresti, N. Kirsch, pp. 71-84.

Encyclopedia of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Gary Wnek and Gary Bowlin, Editors, Taylor and Francis, 2006.

Wheeled Mobility: Wheelchairs and Personal Transportation, J.L. Pearlman, R.A. Cooper

Wiley Encyclopedia of Biomedical Engineering, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2006.

Rehabilitation Engineering: An Overview, R.A. Cooper, D. Ding, R. Cooper, E.J. Wolf, S.D. Algood, T.A. Corfman, A.J. Rentschler, M.L. Boninger, E.S. Chaves

Wheelchair Engineering, R.A. Cooper, D. Ding, A.M. Kwarciak, R. Cooper, S. Guo, D.M. Spaeth, E. Zipfel, A. Kelleher, M.L. Boninger

Rehabilitation Biomechanics, A.M. Koontz, J.L. McCrory, R. Cham, Y. Yang, M. Wilkenson

Intelligent Mobility Aids, R.C. Simpson, A.J. Rentschler

Spinal Cord Stimulation System, S. Guo, K. Brown, G. Grindle, E. Zipfel