Rachid Aissaoui: When Engineering Meets Clinical Research

Osteoarthritis of the knee, a growing problem in Canada, costs several billion dollars in healthcare each year. Rachid Aissaoui, professor and researcher in the Automated Manufacturing Engineering Department devotes his research skills to developing new technologies that will lead to determining the onset and the stage of progression of the disease and to rehabilitation of patients with certain movement disorders.

Biomechanics Research at ÉTS

Professor Aissaoui’s work focuses on two main areas of research: biomechanics and rehabilitation engineering. He is fascinated by the dynamics of movement, and has devoted himself to 3-D modelling of human locomotion and the assessment of postural support devices and wheelchair mobility.

He also studies other health pathologies, such as stroke and spinal cord injury.

How Is 3-D Modelling of Human Locomotion Used?

3-D modelling of human locomotion improves our understanding of the mechanism of walking. Friction, contact surfaces, compensation and muscular control during regular daily activities (walking, climbing stairs, sitting down and standing up, etc.) are measured.

These data are analyzed to establish a link between changes in muscular control and the deterioration of the cartilage measured by compensation mechanisms.

Professor Aissaoui’s team demonstrated that people with osteoarthritis of the knee distribute their weight in a particular way and for that reason, their cartilage wears down in a different way. The team also confirmed hypotheses around poor lubrication of the knee joint.

Other Rehabilitation Research Work

Professor Aissaoui is currently studying the possibility of correcting the gait of individuals afflicted with osteoarthritis of the knee or those who have suffered strokes with the help of an avatar that perfectly reproduces the patient’s behaviour, and with which the patient can develop a true “embodiment” relationship.

He is also working on upgrading a propulsion simulator with a view to changing the way paraplegics use their muscles to propel their wheelchair forward. The objective is to relieve strain caused by this repetitive movement.

Research that Combines Medicine and Engineering

Professor Aissaoui’s work gives him the chance to combine two passions: engineering and medicine. In the non-medical realm, he is presently involved in a project with Dassault Aviation to develop a positioning motor for a virtual mannequin.