Levi Hargrove, PhD

Levi Hargrove, PhD

Scientific Chair, The Regenstein Foundation Center for Bionic Medicine
Director, Neural Engineering for Prosthetics and Orthotics Lab
Associate Professor, Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Engineering, Northwestern University

About Me

Levi Hargrove, PhD, P. Eng., is an internationally recognized leader in the development of pattern recognition-based control systems for prosthetic limbs. At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Dr. Hargrove leads The Regenstein Foundation Center for Bionic Medicine (CBM) — a translational research group that focuses on improving prosthetic options for people with upper- and lower-limb amputations.

Dr. Hargrove’s research focuses on developing control systems that are robust and intuitive to use, with the goal of rapid translation to patients. His work resulted in the first “thought-controlled” bionic leg, which uses electromyographic (EMG) signals from the user’s residual leg muscles, combined with mechanical sensor data from the prosthesis, to provide intuitive control of a powered device. This control system allows the user to transition seamlessly between different walking modes (e.g., from level ground to stairs) and to reposition the leg during non-weight-bearing activities, such as getting into or out of a car. Other key projects include virtual reality-based training systems to improve control of myoelectric upper-limb robotic prostheses and development of technologies for intramuscular EMG signal detection.

Dr. Hargrove manages a research budget of $25 million in grant funding from federal, military and philanthropic sources. He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, which have been published in top-tier journals — including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine — and he has several patents.

In 2014, Dr. Hargrove’s team was awarded the Department of Defense Military Health System Research Symposium Outstanding Research Team/Academia-Industry. In 2017, Dr. Hargrove received the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Research Award — intended to recognize the most outstanding research in the field. He is a member of the IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, and an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and IEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics.

In 2012, Dr. Hargrove co-founded Coapt, LLC, a company born out of his work at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the first to provide pattern recognition control systems for prosthetic arms. Since Coapt’s founding, several hundred people with upper-limb amputations have benefited from this ground-breaking technology. In 2015, Coapt received the Collaboration Award from Chicago Innovation, and in 2019, the Brian & Joyce Blatchford Team Prize for Innovation from the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics.

In addition to his work at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Dr. Hargrove is also an Associate Professor in the departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. He earned a bachelor of science (BScE) in Electrical Engineering, master of science in Electrical Engineering (MScE) and doctorate (PhD) in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick in Canada.


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

355 East Erie

Chicago, IL 60611

Education & Training



    1998 - 2003
    Electrical Engineering, University of New Brunswick
    2003 - 2005
    Electrical Engineering, University of New Brunswick
    2005 - 2008
    Electrical Engineering, University of New Brunswick

Recent Publications

Modeling Expected Reaching Error and Behaviors for Motor Adaptation.
Earley EJ, Hargrove LJ
Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual International Conference
doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2019.8857562
A Survey of Teleceptive Sensing for Wearable Assistive Robotic Devices.
Krausz NE, Hargrove LJ
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
doi: 10.3390/s19235238
Determining User Intent of Partly Dynamic Shoulder Tasks in Individuals With Chronic Stroke Using Pattern Recognition.
Kopke JV, Ellis MD, Hargrove LJ
IEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering : a publication of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2019.2955029

Honors & Awards

  • Young Professional Award
    Association of Professional Engineerings and Geoscientists of New Brunwick, 2014
  • MHSRS Team Award for Outstanding Research Accomplishment
    United States Army, 2015
  • Collaboration Award
    Chicago Innovation Awards, 2015
  • Research Award
    American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists, 2018

Selected Patents

  • Ambulation Prediction Controller for Assistive Device
    9,443,203 B2
    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2016
  • Systems and Methods of Myoelectric Prosthesis Control
    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2014
  • Autoconfiguration of Pattern-Recognition Controlled Myoelectric Prostheses
    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2014

Professional Affiliations

  • Professional Engineer
    Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick, 2008
  • Member
    IEEE, 2001
  • Member
    International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology, 2011

Research Interests

  • Control of Bionic Limbs
  • Biological Signal Processing
  • Pattern Recognition

Current Grant Support

  • National Institutes of Health R01
    Intuitive Control of a Hybrid Prosthetic Leg During Ambulation. Role: Principal Investigator, 2018 - 2023
  • National Institutes of Health R01
    The Functional Importance of Powered Wrist Flexion for Upper Limb Prostheses. Role: Principal Investigator, 2018 - 2023
    Technologies to Evaluate and Advance Manipulation and Mobility. Role: Co-Investigator, 2018 - 2023
  • Department of Defense
    The Functional Importance of Powered Wrist Flexion. Role: Co-Investigator, 2019 - 2023
  • Department of Defense
    Flexible Epidermal Electrodes for Intuitive Control of Powered Arm and Leg Prostheses, 2018 - 2021
  • Department of Defense
    Determining the Functional Importance of a Powered Multifunction Wrist. Role: Principal Investigator, 2017 - 2020
  • Department of Defenese
    Motorized Hip Orthoses to Improve the Gait Ability of Transfemoral Amputees. Role: Co-Investigator, 2017 - 2020
  • Department of Defense
    Development and Validation of a Self-Adapting Myoelectrically Controlled Prosthetic Ankle with Continuously Variable Stiffness, 2017 - 2020

Neural Engineering for Prosthetics & Orthotics Lab

Our research focuses on developing neural control systems for upper and lower prosthetics.

view lab