His revolutionary innovations improve the lives of people with disabilities

The health, happiness, and productivity of those whose lives he has improved with his revolutionary assistive devices provide social inclusion in society

Rory Cooper and his team at the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories are working to develop advancements including a wheelchair that can travel on rough terrain. Cooper founded the HERL in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

2022 IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award Recipient, Cooper, serves as the Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh, and a senior career scientist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs serves as an advocate for veterans and the disabled. After he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, he began making modifications to the back brace doctors gave him and making better chairs.

His extensive contributions to wheelchair technology have expanded mobility and reduced secondary injuries for millions of people with disabilities. Cooper has used his experience and expertise to improve the lives of people with disabilities. His life-changing technologies include the SMARTWheel (SW), Variable Compliance Joystick with Compensation Algorithms (VCJ-CA), and Virtual Seating Coach (VSC). His inventions use biomechanics and ergonomics, as well as multisensor fusion, contextual awareness, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to provide individually tailored coaching and data sharing with the clinical teams to help mitigate the risk for pressure injuries. 

Learn how he continues to improve and enhance the technology that promotes people’s mobility, function, and inclusion in The Institute newsletter.