I graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) in 1999, then moved to Florida to complete a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, focused in Biomechanics, at Florida International University (Miami, Florida) in 2001. Later I moved back to Colombia and worked at CIREC in research focused at improving walking in patients with lower limb amputation. From this work I learned that gait rehabilitation should not be solely focused at improving prosthetic and orthotic devices but instead it should be a combination of design and understanding on how the injury has modified the body that controls movement. This idea had me move to Edmonton where I completed a PhD degree in Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta in 2013. I worked research assistant in Dr. Fouad’s lab until 2015, during which I expanded my knowledge in research in rehabilitation after spinal cord injury using animal models. Currently I am Post-Doctoral Fellow working with Dr. Jacqueline Hebert (Blinc Lab) and Dr. Albert Vette (NCB Lab).
An important aspect in rehabilitation is the accurate assessment of the impairment. This is usually performed through the use of clinical measures aimed at depicting different characteristics of balance and mobility. However, those measures are 1) limited to the specific population for which they were designed; and 2) typically most sensitive to those with moderately severe deficits. The Computer Assessed Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) is ideal for assessing balance and mobility in a wide range of individuals (e.g., neurological injury, musculoskeletal injury, high performance populations).
Currently, I am working on developing a Performance Assessment Tool (PAT) for the CAREN at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to provide objective balance and mobility assessments for patients. A series of tasks to be run on the CAREN were designed based on the main components of currently available outcome measures for balance and performance. The content validity for the proposed tasks and scoring systems was assessed by surveying clinicians and content experts and refined based on input and feedback to minimize ceiling effects. This novel tool will help clinicians identify specific deficits to be targeted with treatment hence allowing measurement of improvement over time.
The CAREN system from Motek is used for the rehabilitation of Glenrose patients as well as Canadian Forces personnel presenting with both physical and psychological injuries. The system can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions including stroke, amputation, traumatic brain injury, multiple orthopedic trauma, spinal cord injury, postural instability, sports injury, burns and psychiatric disorders such as phobias and PTSD. The CAREN software allows users to create and modify the applications to meet individual goals of therapy as determined by the clinical staff. Applications can be scaled to provide the appropriate challenge for all levels of the rehabilitation spectrum.
The CAREN system consists of:
- 6 Degrees of Freedom motion base
- Split-belt instrumented treadmill
- 12 cameras Vicon motion capture system
- 180 degrees projection system
- 3D surround sound system
- Safety Harness
- Jack, A. S., Hurd, C., Forero, J., Nataraj, A., Fenrich, K., Blesch, A., & Fouad, K. (2018). Cortical electrical stimulation in female rats with a cervical spinal cord injury to promote axonal outgrowth. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 96(5), 852–862. http://doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24209
- May, Z., Kumar, R., Fuehrmann, T., Tam, R., Vulic, K., Forero, J., et al. (2018). Adult skin-derived precursor Schwann cell grafts form growths in the injured spinal cord of Fischer rats. Biomedical Materials (Bristol, England), 13(3), 034101. http://doi.org/10.1088/1748-605X/aa95f8
- Torres-Espín, A., Forero, J., Schmidt, E. K. A., Fouad, K., & Fenrich, K. K. (2018). A motorized pellet dispenser to deliver high intensity training of the single pellet reaching and grasping task in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 336, 67–76. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.033
- Misiaszek, J. E., Forero, J., Hiob, E., & Urbanczyk, T. (2016). Automatic postural responses following rapid displacement of a light touch contact during standing. Neuroscience, 316, 1–12. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.12.033
- Fenrich, K. K., May, Z., Torres-Espín, A., Forero, J., Bennett, D. J., & Fouad, K. (2015). Single pellet grasping following cervical spinal cord injury in adult rat using an automated full-time training robot. Behavioural Brain Research, 299, 59–71. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2015.11.020
- Forero, J., & Misiaszek, J. E. (2015). The amplitude of interlimb cutaneous reflexes in the leg is influenced by fingertip touch and vision during treadmill locomotion. Experimental Brain Research, 233(6), 1–10. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-015-4250-8
- Fouad, K., Forero, J., & Hurd, C. (2015). A simple analogy for nervous system plasticity after injury. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 43(2), 100–106. http://doi.org/10.1249/JES.0000000000000040
- Forero, J., & Misiaszek, J. E. (2014). The effect of light touch on the amplitude of cutaneous reflexes in the arms during treadmill walking. Experimental Brain Research, 232(9), 2967–2976. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-014-3979-9
- Forero, J., & Misiaszek, J. E. (2014). Balance-corrective responses to unexpected perturbations at the arms during treadmill walking. Journal of Neurophysiology, 112(7), 1790–1800. http://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00719.2013
- Forero, J. (2013, August 15). Touch and Balance During Walking. (J. E. Misiaszek, Ed.). ERA, Edmonton.
- Forero, J., & Misiaszek, J. E. (2013). The contribution of light touch sensory cues to corrective reactions during treadmill locomotion. Experimental Brain Research, 226(4), 575–584. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-013-3470-z