The Rehabilitation Robotics Lab at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine is led by its director, Dr. Michelle J. Johnson. All research and development is performed under her supervision and direction, and is sponsored by the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The lab’s mission and focus is to use rehabilitation robotics and neuroscience to investigate brain plasticity and motor function after non-traumatic brain injuries, for example in stroke survivors or persons diagnosed with cerebral palsy. By examining the underlying causes of limb impairment after neural disease, injury, or cerebral accident, the lab works to discover effective methods to expedite a robust functional recovery. Translating research findings into the development of extremely affordable therapeutic robots that are able to provide effective neurorehabilitation – both on the national and global level – is the ultimate goal of the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab.



Lab Highlights

Global Perspectives on Medicine, Rehabilitation and Robotics Webinar Series

Join us for the ongoing webinar series, Global Perspectives on Medicine, Rehabilitation and Robotics, sponsored by the Center for Global Health and Elsevier in collaboration with Penn CFAR and our international colleagues at the University of Botswana and Botswana-UPenn Partnership.

Email Dr. Michelle Johnson with questions or speaker suggestions. johnsonmic@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Upcoming Webinars

March 16, 2022, 5pm-6:15pm CAT, 11am-12:15am EST
Topic 1: Overview of the literature on the use of rehabilitation technologies for neurorehabilitation with a focus on robotic technology
  • Ronit Feingold Polak, PT, PhD is a physiotherapist specialized in neurological rehabilitation. In her PhD work, she researched the usability and clinical effect of humanoid robot for stroke upper-limb rehabilitation.

Topic 2: Results of two focus groups of clinicians, researchers and rehabilitation-technology developers and distributors in Israel: current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for adoption of rehabilitation technologies (SWOT analysis)
  • Prof. Patrice L. (Tamar) Weiss, PhD, OT is a senior research consultant at Jerusalem’s ALYN Hospital’s Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Research Center and an emeritus professor at the University of Haifa.

Topic 3: Emergent guidelines to promote greater usage of rehabilitation technologies
  • Prof. Shelly Levy-Tzedek, PhD, is the head of the Cognition, Aging and Rehabilitation lab at Ben-Gurion University, where she and her team study a variety of ways in which robotics can be helpful in healthy aging and rehabilitation. 

Register here


Recent Publications

  1. M. Johnson, “Rehabilitation Robotics Can Help Bridge Gaps in Stroke Rehabilitation Care,” presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting, Feb. 2022. Accessed: Feb. 21, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2022/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/29349
  2. C. Mucchiani, P. Cacchione, M. Johnson, R. Mead, and M. Yim, “Deployment of a Socially Assistive Robot for Assessment of COVID-19 Symptoms and Exposure at an Elder Care Setting,” in 2021 30th IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), 2021, pp. 1189–1195. doi: 10.1109/RO-MAN50785.2021.9515551.
  3. M. J. Sobrepera, V. G. Lee, and M. J. Johnson, “The design of Lil’Flo, a socially assistive robot for upper extremity motor assessment and rehabilitation in the community via telepresence,” Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering, vol. 8, p. 20556683211001804, 2021, doi: 10.1177/20556683211001805.
  4. M. J. Sobrepera, V. G. Lee, S. Garg, R. Mendonca, and M. J. Johnson, “Perceived usefulness of a social robot augmented telehealth platform by therapists in the United States,” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 2946–2953, 2021, doi: 10.1109/LRA.2021.3062349.
  5. K. D. Bui, C. A. Wamsley, F. S. Shofer, D. L. Kolson, and M. J. Johnson, “Robot-based assessment of HIV-related motor and cognitive impairment for neurorehabilitation,” IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, vol. 29, pp. 576–586, 2021, doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2021.3056908.




Dr. Johnson recently presented her work to the Penn Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department as part of their fall seminar series

Take a look at a recent talk by Dr. Johnson and Kevin Bui on robot-assisted rehabilitation, focused on feasibility in Botswana and rehabilitation for people with HIV.

Michael Sobrepera recently presented a seminar talk to the MEAM Department at Penn. Take a look: