Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Jun Yao, Neuro-Image and Interfaces Laboratory


Laboratory Description

The focus of the Neuro-Image and -Interfaces (NII) laboratory is to develop and translate biomedical engineering techniques to basic neuroscience studies and to rehabilitation/therapy applications. More specifically, we develop new methods to enhance understandings of the neuro-mechanisms underlying movement disorder following stroke. Guiding by enhanced scientific understandings, we in turn advance biomedical engineering techniques, such as neural machine interface, to regain the functional control of the impaired hand in individuals with moderately to severely impaired stroke.

Neuro-Image and Interfaces Image

Current Projects

Current NIH (1R21HD088993) work involves the collaboration of biomedical engineers, physical therapists and neuroscientists to work towards the development of a portable device to maximize hand/arm motor recovery, and assist in hand activities of daily living in individuals with moderate to severe stroke. (Note: this work is a continuation of 90IF0090-01-00 [formerly DOE NIDRR H133G120287], U.S. Department of Health & Human Services/formerly NIDRR Field Initiated Development grant).

This project include aims to implement the movement-facilitating device in both the home and clinical settings, by making the device user-friendly and simplified for personal use, while further delving into its potential to be used to improve current rehabilitation techniques.

Future projects include investigating the efficacy of device-assisted intervention both at home and/or in clinical settings in regaining hand function following moderate to severe stroke.

Lab Photo

Graduate Student Research

Kevin Wilkins is a PhD student in the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) program. His work focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms contributing to hand impairment in individuals following a stroke, as well as functional and structural cortical reorganization following effective hand/arm interventions. Kevin recently received a 1 year predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association for his project "Static and dynamic cortical activity underlying the negative impact of lifting on hand opening post-stroke".


Synthesis Projects 

This laboratory participates in the didactic education of doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students in the content area of clinical research.

Class of 2018 (3rd years)


DPT students class of 2018 conducted “The Post Stroke Upper Limb Recovery Effort Survey”, which they will be presenting at Combined Sections Meeting of the APTA, New Orleans, LA, 2018. Students included Morgan Steele, Emma Taylor, Keely McNutt, Jessica Minton, Kathryn Webb, Anne Rockert. This work was conducted in collaboration with Jane Sullivan, Carolina Carmona and Justin Drogos.

Class of 2019 (2nd years)


DPT students class of 2019 are investigating how single bouts of functional electrical stimulation during task-specific training improves performance time in individuals with moderate to severe chronic stroke. Students include Larissa Aguado, Anqi Jiang, Sophia Mascarenhas, Matthew Montgomery, Erin Christine Taylor, Grace Wurst. This work is conducted in collaboration with Carolina Carmona and Justin Drogos.

Class of 2020 (1st years)

DPT students class of 2020 are continuing previous work on “The Post Stroke Upper Limb Recovery Effort Survey”. Students include Lindsay Ardiff, Dollie Joy Diaz, Ali Doughty, Sarah Ruth Kappers, Van Nguyen. This work is conducted in collaboration with Jane Sullivan, Carolina Carmona and Justin Drogos.


 To view publications from this lab, please click here.

Principal Investigator

Graduate Students

Coordinating Staff

Collaborating Faculty