C-STAR Course: Art and Science of Creating Intuitive Devices

In the field of rehabilitation, devices that restore function and ability after a trauma or a debilitating medical condition can offer a lifeline to individuals and families. However, creating devices that mimic natural human movement and responses, restore sensation, and aid in daily tasks can fall short in their usability, aesthetic appeal or often have a large learning curve. How do we create tools that achieve these functional goals, yet are so well designed that people can easily adopt them without these barriers? This recording of a 5 Hour course will discuss human-centered design and how it’s applied to rehabilitation devices including prosthetics, wheelchairs and exoskeletons. Attendees will learn more about user interfaces and how human-centered design principles can be applied to create more intuitive devices. The day will end with a commercial panel of industry experts who will discuss their approach to design for the commercial market.


  • Levi Hargrove Ph.D. Scientific Chair of The Regenstein Foundation Center for Bionic Medicine and of the Neural Engineering for Prosthetics and Orthotics Laboratory, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab; Associate Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University


  • Brenna Argall, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Computer Science, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University
  • Jose González Ph.D. Head of Research in Germany, Ottobock
  • Homayoon Kazerooni, Ph.D. Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, Director of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory Chief Scientist, Ottobock
  • James Patton, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist Professor, Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Amy Schwartz, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University Principal, Empathic Innovation, LLC
  • Jacob Segil, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado Boulder
  • Katherine Strausser, Ph.D. Technology Lead for Exoskeletons at Ekso Bionics

AUDIENCE: Engineers, Data Scientists, Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Nurses, and Physicians

LEARNER OUTCOMES:  Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to: 

  • Compare the pros and cons of design elements that have been deployed in rehabilitation devices over time
  • Identify key principles of user-centered design that can be applied to the development process for rehabilitation devices


To participate, you will need access to a computer with an Internet connection. High-speed broadband access (LAN, Cable or DSL) is highly recommended. 

  • Internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or better)
  • Web browser:
  • Latest stable version of one of the following: Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
  • JavaScript and Cookies enabled
  • Speaker or headset to listen to audio files and participate in Zoom calls
  • Do NOT use Internet Explorer, as it is not supported.

About C-STAR:

The Center for Smart Use of Technologies to Assess Real World Outcomes (C-STAR) is one of six national resource centers comprising the Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource network (MR3) of the National Institutes of Health.

C-STAR is a joint grant between Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, conceived out of a need to equip investigators with the skills and know-how to accurately employ technologies to measure and interpret data relevant to sensorimotor and cognitive function in the lab, clinic and real world. Our mission is to connect researchers with the right tools to develop and accurately assess technologies in the field of rehabilitation science. Leveraging the collective experience of clinicians, scientists, engineers and patients, our center provides the expertise, instruction and mentorship to empower researchers on the meaningful use of the vast array of technologies that are readily available but notoriously difficult to implement consistently across diverse patient populations. For more information on C-STAR: GO HERE 



Online Learning Engineers Nurses Occupational Therapists Occupational Therapy Assistants OTA and PTA Physical Therapist Assistants Physical Therapists Physicians Scientists