Partial view of a wheelchair. A person in sitting in the wheelchair and their black shoes are visible. The is a measurement device being used to test the wheelchairs performace.

Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab

Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab

The Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab (REAR Lab) takes an applied research approach to studying, developing, and enhancing specialized products that increase the health and user experience value of people with disabilities. The REAR Lab is a collaborative research space that brings together the quantitative qualities of design thinking and user experience research from the School of Industrial Design and the critical precision-based biomechanics insights from the  School of Mechanical Engineering

The REAR Lab places priority on working on tangible solutions that improve the human condition.

Areas of Focus

Human-centered design is key to the lab's approach to problem-solving and testing. Through specific interest in assistive and diagnostic products and technologies, the REAR lab exposes students to equipment for human subject testing, product testing, and a fabrication space to develop new tools that facilitate research goals.

Lab activities range from data collection to data analysis, CAD design and device fabrication, algorithm development and more.

Technology Development

Assistive Technology

Experimental Research

Standards and Test Method Development

Dr. Stephen Sprigle speaker to students during a lecture.

Principle Investigator

Stephen Sprigle, PhD, PT

Stephen Sprigle is a Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology with appointments in Bioengineering, Industrial Design and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.A biomedical engineer with a license in physical therapy, Sprigle directs the Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab (REARLab), which focuses on applied disability research and development. The REARLab’s research interests include the biomechanics of wheelchair seating and posture, pressure ulcer prevention, and manual wheelchair propulsion. Its development activities include standardized wheelchair and cushion testing and the design of assistive and diagnostic technologies. Sprigle teaches design-related classes in both the Schools of Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering.

Courses and Research

A student using his hands to hold a motor attached to a prosthetic leg. The motor is supposed to work as an assistive modification to human knee movements.

ME/ID Collaborative Capstone Design

ME 4182 and ID 4081

This course is available to undergraduate seniors and graduate level students as the Capstone Design Studio for ME and ID majors. The studio takes a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to problem solving by challenging teams of Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering students to apply a systematic design process to real world problems. Teams apply their knowledge and skills to develop evidence-based solutions through the integration of processed like needs assessments, ideation, prototyping, and evaluation.

A mock-up illustration of a chair design for infants.

Human Centered Design

ID 6101

This is a graduate level course focused on engaging students through research tools and data collection to design products and/or environments that are inclusive of persons with different abilities. This course seeks to expose students to an understanding of function, aspects of disability and aging, and to the tools commonly used by designers to collect stakeholder input. Course content includes an overview of disability and aging, anthropometry, survey and focus group design and qualitative inquiry.

Interested in Working with Us?

Every semester the REAR Lab hires undergraduate students to participate in research in various areas related to applied disability research and development.

Please contact rearlab@design.gatech.edu.

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