The Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center addresses the pressing clinical needs of disabled Veterans by harnessing the most recent developments in untapped engineering and basic science disciplines, and applying them to design and disseminate new rehabilitation interventions. The Center facilitates the creation and clinical translation of novel, cross cutting devices or methodologies within a framework that promotes regulatory compliance, outsourcing by contract manufacturers, clinical testing, and dissemination throughout the rehabilitation community. Its unique and supportive environment enables VA investigators to develop advanced assistive or restorative technologies that serve Veterans with sensory, motor, or cognitive deficits, as well as limb loss. The Center capitalizes on significant local expertise in pursuit of research and development activities in three main clinical Application Areas: Prosthetics & Orthotics, Health Monitoring & Maintenance, and Neural Interfacing. Innovative devices and foundational technical resources for the new treatment paradigms to progress from proof-of-concept through first-in-man clinical feasibility testing in these areas are developed by the Center?s Enabling Technology core. Center projects address new materials and microsystems for communicating with the nervous system for novel neurotherapeutic or neuroprosthetic interventions, mechanisms and optimal delivery of electrotherapy to accelerate wound healing or modulate chronic pain, novel sensing systems for point-of-care blood analysis and personalized health, replacing or restoring limb and pulmonary function, long-term monitoring of bladder status through wireless sensors, novel active exoskeletons and articulated support structures that enable locomotion and stair climbing, and advanced neurally-integrated prostheses to restore sensation to upper or lower limb amputees. The Center has established the internal engineering, quality control, and regulatory systems required for successful translation of its discoveries to clinical implementation. Center programs facilitate generation and protection of original intellectual properties, encourage interactions with the clinical services at the local medical center, and identify, mentor, and retain talented clinician-scientists dedicated to improving Veterans health. APT Investigators secure significant independent support from multiple local, national, governmental, and private agencies, including major awards from NIH, DARPA, NSF, and DoD, in addition to Merit Review and other VA funding, and disseminate their findings broadly in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, clinical and scientific meetings, and the lay media. The Center also empanels Clinical and Industrial Advisory Boards, and other mechanisms of governance and program evaluation that include representatives from Veterans Service Organizations, to actively create productive collaborations with academic and commercial partners. The Center established LSCVAMC as a site in the VA Innovator?s Network, and receives Spark, Seed, and Spread level funding to facilitate sharing its developments with other VA Medical Centers. An internal pilot funding program also selects and supports promising studies that have the potential to ultimately lead to independent funding and commercial translation of projects important to disabled Veterans. Priorities for the coming five years include: 1) Transitioning wireless bladder pressure monitoring, adaptive electrotherapeutic devices into humans, and microfluidic artificial lungs into large animal trials, 2) Deploying new, fully implanted systems for advanced sensorimotor enabled robotic upper limb prostheses and restoring plantar pressure sensation to trans-femoral amputees, 3) Addressing phantom pain in amputees and normalizing sensation in Veterans with diabetic neuropathies, 4) Exploring personalized game-based vestibular rehabilitation and enhancing access to adapted exercise, 5) Prolonging the functionality of cortical recording electrodes for brain computer interfaces and enhancing recovery from toxic brain injury by mitigating inflammatory responses, and 6) Expanding outreach, Veteran engagement, and capacity building activities.

Public Health Relevance

The Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center acts like a lens to focus the latest scientific, technological, and clinical discoveries onto the highest priorities for improving the health and daily function of disabled Veterans. Applications are primarily in the areas of Prosthetics & Orthotics, Health Monitoring & Maintenance, and Neural Interfaces address the most pressing needs of Veterans with limb-loss or sensory, motor, or cognitive dysfunction. The new physical components, software, and fabrication processes necessary to realize and implement innovative interventions in these ?Application Areas? are developed in our Enabling Technology core. The unique restorative or assistive technologies, and the diagnostic or treatment methods, we develop serve Veterans with paralysis, amputation, diabetes, chronic pain, incontinence, cardiopulmonary insufficiency, vestibular dysfunction, or toxic brain injury.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans Administration (I50)
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Centers, Research Enhancement Award Program and Consortiums (RRDC)
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Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
United States
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Freeberg, M J; Stone, M A; Triolo, R J et al. (2017) The design of and chronic tissue response to a composite nerve electrode with patterned stiffness. J Neural Eng 14:036022