Professor serves as Co-PI on grant awarding $432,166 to study better long cane design and biomechanics for blind cane users

Feb. 26, 2019

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— In an extension of previous research which yielded better long cane designs and new individualized cane-use biomechanic techniques for blind cane users, the grant will test the new design and practice in a real-world setting. 

About the grant

Dr. Sangwoo Lee

Dr. Sangwoo Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Human Performance and Health Education, will serve as Co-PI alongside Dr. Dae Shik Kim, associate professor in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University. The project, entitled, “Better Long Cane Design and Biomechanics for Blind Cane Users,” is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a National Institutes of Health grant. The aim of the research is to increase reliable detection and avoidance of walking path hazards and thus reduce the incidence of falls, which can lead to lower mortality, a decreased number of emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and an improved quality of life. The grant seeks to determine the factors that affect the reliable detection of hazards such as sudden changes in walking-surface texture, drop-offs and obstacles in real-world settings.

As Co-PI, Dr. Lee is in charge of two areas. First, he is responsible for measuring and analyzing forearm muscle fatigue using a wireless electromyography (EMG) system. Second, he will help conduct a three-dimensional (3D) motion analysis, the data from which will be integrated with the forearm muscle fatigue data. Combing a 3D motion analysis that captures the movements of cane and hand with an EMG that measures the electric properties of the forearm muscles is expected to provide better insight into how blind individuals experience forearm muscle fatigue while walking for a prolonged duration with a cane and how the fatigued forearm muscles change the biomechanics of cane and hand.

About Dr. Sangwoo Lee

Dr. Sangwoo Lee has been an assistant professor of exercise science at Western Michigan University since 2015 where he has twice received the Most Valuable Professor Award. He has co-authored fourteen articles and one book, given nineteen presentations and fourteen poster presentations during his academic career. His research interests include biomechanics of resistance exercise. He holds certification as a Sports Performance Coach for USA Olympic Weightlifting.