Thompson Sarkodie-Gyan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research Scientist in Restoration and Regenerative Medicine
Fellow of the Institute of Measurement and Control, FInstMC
My Historical Mission:
Thompson Sarkodie-Gyan earned the academic degree of Diplom Ingenieur (Master of Science) in Electrical Engineering and Cybernetics from the Technical University Magdeburg (Otto-von-Guericke-Universitaet Magdeburg) http://www.uni-magdeburg.de/ in 1979. He was appointed a research associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) from October 1979 till October 1985 at the Institute of Measurement and Control of the Technical University Berlin, http://www.tu-berlin.de/. He obtained the academic degrees of Diplom Ingenieur (Master of Science) in measurement technology and the Doctor of Engineering Sciences (Dr.-Ing.) in measurement and control, Department of Process Engineering (Fachbereich Verfahrenstechnik) under the supervision of the famous “Father of Microbalances” Prof. Dr. Ing. habil. Theodor Gast. Sarkodie-Gyan’s Dissertation was the determination of true mass flow rate using an oscillating impeller, which led to the invention of a novel apparatus.
True Mass Flow Rate Meter [Sarkodie-Gyan]
Sarkodie-Gyan earned the appointment as a research scientist at the Institute of Automotive Engineering at the Technical University Berlin (Prof. Dr.-Ing. H.P. Willumeit), in 1985. He led the research in artificial intelligence in automobiles, an important project that involves the guidance and control of vehicles, autonomous automobile. The research work was sponsored by the German Research Foundations (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). This research served as a significant contribution to the Program of European Transport with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety (PROMETHEUS). The results of this research were widely published in peer-review papers. Sarkodie-Gyan also developed a new course in vehicle dynamics and measurements which he taught to graduate students at the Institute of Automotive Engineering.
In 1988, Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed senior research fellow at the department of engineering design and manufacture, University of Hull in North Humberside, United Kingdom, http://www.hull.ac.uk/. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Dynamic Systems and Controls, and also Strength of Materials. He led research in the area of Intelligent Continuous Continued Condition Monitoring of Cutting Tools during Manufacture. This research earned the European BRITE/EURAM funding of 5 Million UK Pounds and included private companies and academic institutions from Italy, Austria, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom (PI was Dr. Rob James).
Sarkodie-Gyan joined the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque http://www.unm.edu/, in 1989, as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and worked in the Laboratory for CAD Systems and Robotics under Professor Mohammad Jamshidi, http://wacong.org/autosoft/bio_jamshidi.html.
In 1990, Sarkodie-Gyan joined Applied Technology Associates, Inc., (ATA) http://www.aptec.com/ as a senior engineer for measurement and controls. As senior engineer at ATA, he did support the development of innovative motion sensors, control concepts, and sensor fusion applications. At the same period, he functioned as Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico and supervised both undergraduate and graduate students in their respective research projects in robotics and in fuzzy systems.
Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed Senior Lecturer of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Teesside in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom, http://www.tees.ac.uk/ in 1991. A year later he was appointed director of the Manufacturing Systems Research Unit. As director of the Research Unit, his key function was in the management structure, directing research, ensuring that research and scholarship underpin teaching, and ensuring the effective use of allocated resources. Among his duties was also the provision of a focus for research, and leading academic researchers, providing support for new faculty, establishing research and advising on resources and funding. He had complete responsibility over budgetary control.
At the University of Teesside, Sarkodie-Gyan also founded the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems Technology (LIST) and funded almost all his graduate students through external funding. The establishment of LIST was through strong industrial support, particularly from those charged with steering manufacturing companies through research, development, consultancy and prototyping. Research projects performed within the LIST ranged from machine vision and pattern recognition, applications of soft computing to research in water science and technology, research in neurophysiology and neurological rehabilitation, laser treatment of diabetic retinopathy to sports science.
At the LIST, very significant research and development projects were accomplished. Some selected dissertation work include the following:
- Development of an Intelligent Measurement Systems for High Tolerance Determination of Manufactured Components using Machine Vision and Soft Computing (PhD Candidate: Chum Wah Lam)
- The Optimization of Shape Classification using the Centroidal Profile Sequence and an Artificial Neural Network (Ph.D. Candidate: Alastair R. McNeil).
- Control of a Surgical Manipulator to Assist in Transurethral Reseaction of the Prostate using Soft Computing Methods (PhD Candidate: Michael Patrick O’Neill)
- Computer Assisted Photocoagulation for Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy (PhD Candidate: Kheng Guan Goh)
- An Advanced Biomedical Gait Training Machine for the Rehabilitation of Non-Ambulatory Stroke Patients Based on Computer-Aided Human Motion Analysis (PhD Candidate: Dietmar Uhlenbrock)
In 1995, Sarkodie-Gyan was invited to chair the special section on measurement and control in desalination in Bad Soden (Germany) and in Abu Dhabi (UAE) to provide expert guidance in the development of the body of knowledge of the Encyclopedia of Desalination and Water Resources (DESWARE), http://www.desware.net/DeswareInformationBooklet.pdf/.
Whilst at the University of Teesside, Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed a senior research fellow at the Department of Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation of the Free University Berlin (Prof. Dr.-Med. Stefan Hesse), http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~bhesse/Gangreha/gte.html, and he was the Principal Investigator (PI) in the invention of the first Gait Trainer (Gait Trainer I), a commercial product for neurorehabilitation (1994-2000). As a Research Scientist, Sarkodie-Gyan worked together with a group of doctors and surgeons at the Free University Berlin’s (http://www.fu-berlin.de/en/index.html) Department of Orthopaedics and Neurological Rehabilitation. The team consisted of neurosurgeons that treated neurologically impaired patients in the Neurological and Rehabilitation Clinic (Klinik Berlin). There was no training equipment for rehabilitation at the time. After conceiving the idea of building a training equipment to rehabilitate impaired patients, the project statement (ideas) was formulated in medical terms. Sarkodie-Gyan then matched these medical ideas into engineering philosophy, concepts and methodologies. After extensive research Sarkodie-Gyan and his PhD student, Dietmar Uhlenbrock, fabricated a prototype of the gait training device in the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems Technology. This first Gait Trainer, Gait Trainer I, was patented in Germany in 1997. After extensive clinical trials, a revised and improved version, the Gait Trainer II, evolved in 1999. This was also patented in Germany and is currently in use in the Klinik Berlin (Department of Neurological Rehabilitation of the Free University, Berlin) and also in many other clinical facilities in Europe, and in other countries. It is commercially known as the Gait Trainer GTI. This device served as a significant breakthrough in medical technology. The invention of the Gait Trainer I, was a significant breakthrough towards Europe’s Technology Initiatives for Disabled and Elderly citizens (TIDE).
The Gait Trainer I
Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed Reader in Systems Science and Biomedical Engineering (1996-2000) and elected Fellow of the Institute of Measurement and Control. At the University of Teesside, Sarkodie-Gyan successfully supervised eleven doctoral dissertations and over twenty-five Master Theses.
Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech), http://www.nmt.edu/, 2000. At New Mexico Tech, he was the founding director of the undergraduate and graduate Mechatronics Program that is in line with his philosophy of multidisciplinary thinking and education. This program has attracted and still continues to attract many students to New Mexico Tech. It is currently the highest recruiter of engineering students.
At New Mexico Tech, Sarkodie-Gyan and his students invented the Smart Gait Emulator (SGE)
The Smart Gait Emulator
Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed Course Director by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Institute for Continuing Education to develop short courses in neurorehabilitation, in 2004, http://www.asme.org/techsem/BioEngineering/509.html/ and 2005 , http://www.asmeconferences.org/nanbio05/, respectively.
Based on his pioneer work in neurorehabilitation, Sarkodie-Gyan was contracted by the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in 2005 to write a novel book on neurorehabilitation. The book entitled “Neurorehabilitation Devices: Engineering Design, Measurement and Control”, was published by McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in 2006. Many educational establishments and research institutions all over the world have adopted the use of this reference book.
In 2005, Sarkodie-Gyan was appointed Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), http://www.utep.edu/ . He is also a research scientist in biomechatronics and rehabilitation robotics.
At UTEP, Sarkodie-Gyan has succeeded in establishing the Laboratory for Industrial Metrology and Automation (LIMA), http://lima.utep.edu as a teaching and research laboratory to serve as a home for assistance and consulting to industry, and a home for multi-investigator research projects and to conduct research intended to bring about innovation and practical solutions by focusing on industrially relevant research needs. LIMA brings together thinkers and practitioners from the many disciplines which have a common interest in measurement and automation. It organizes meetings, seminars, exhibitions, and national and international conferences on a large number of topics. It has a strong level of local section activity in providing opportunities for interchange of experience and for introducing advances in theory and application.
In 2008, Sarkodie-Gyan founded the Laboratory for Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation, http://humanlocomotion.utep.edu. Located within the College of Engineering, UTEP’s Laboratory for Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation offers an infrastructure for providing researchers in medical rehabilitation with access to expertise, technologies and resources from allied fields such as neurosciences, regenerative medicine and engineering. This infrastructure enhances the capabilities of the researchers for understanding the mechanisms involved in functional recovery, develop therapeutic strategies, and improve the lives of people with disabilities within our community.
Research in Regenerative Medicine
Through his collaborative work and outreach character, Sarkodie-Gyan performs research with a group of doctors at the Texas Tech University Medical School in the area of regenerative medicine.
Congenital disorders, degenerative diseases, and terminal illnesses affect millions of Americans at all ages. Many of these people would benefit from a transplant to extend their life, and over 130,000 people are on waiting lists for donor organs. However, the need is greater than the demand as each year over 7,000 people die waiting for a transplant (OPTN/SRTR, 2007). The solution to this need for organ and tissue donation may lie in advancing our understanding and use of regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicines seeks to prolong and enhance life by creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissues and organs lost due to age, disease, damage, injury or congenital defect.
Regenerative medicine provides a gateway for advancing our technological arsenal for assessing and understanding organ and tissue recovery.
Regenerative medicine is the latest advancement in medical care, having the potential to provide enhanced treatment and therapy to previously untreatable diseases and conditions. Though regenerative medicine is a new field of medicine, peripheral nerve regeneration dates back for centuries. With current technologies, regenerative medicine will have a prominent role in revitalizing health outcomes for chronic diseases and traumatic injury; however, because regenerative medicine is a relatively new field, there is limited understanding concerning the underlying mechanisms involved in successful outcomes. In order to better understand the science behind the medicine, it is necessary to explore the body’s adaptations that occur with regenerative medicine. It is crucial to understand the interactions that occur between the body and the regenerative medicine technologies with the purpose of helping clinicians provide optimal treatment and care for each patient.
Regenerative medicine procedures, such as nerve transfers, seek to prolong and improve the quality of life by repairing or replacing nerves due to traumatic injuries. In peripheral nerve transfers, the new target organ is completely different from the previous site challenging the brain to adapt by learning and memorizing a new method for operating these new regional joints, muscle, and skin innervation. It also requires unlearning and forgetting past regional distributions of end organs and structures by creating a new synaptic circuitry among participating sensory motor neurons and deactivating the old neural circuitry. Currently, there are two rehabilitative training programs used for post-surgical nerve transfer/repair: (1) the robotic arm and (2) the intact or uninjured extremity; however, what is unknown is- which system is better for restoring functional outcomes. A gap still exists between post-surgical therapy and functional outcome. To address this, the proposed research seeks to understand the neural adaptation process involved in the reeducation of the injured extremity as a result of the task-specific training. The long-term goal of this research is to optimize the factors and conditions necessary to provide maximal recovery for peripheral nerve transfers, improving the functional outcomes of this type of regenerative surgery. The proposed work will enhance the body of knowledge in neuroscience and regenerative medicine, in particular in the area of cerebral plasticity following peripheral nerve transfers, repairs and other reconstructive procedures.
Research on the International Space Station: NASA
It is also well known that prolonged exposure to weightlessness associated with space flight provokes profound physiological changes in humans. Current research suggests that astronauts returning from spaceflight experience disturbances in head-trunk coordination, lower limb muscle activation patterning, kinematics, and alterations in their ability to coordinate effective landing strategies during jump tasks.
One of the focal points of Sarkodie-Gyan’s research is to understand the changes in central control mechanisms related to posture and the effects of microgravity. The studies within his laboratory involves the recording and the analysis of the balance and walking functions in pre-and post-flight astronauts with the ultimate aim to developing an innovative pre-and post-flight gait analysis and training system to counter related impairments acquired in space, and thus help astronauts recover quickly from these mentioned physiological changes on return to earth. He is a research scientist within the countermeasures group of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), http://www.nsbri.org/Research/Neuro.html.
Sarkodie-Gyan’s track record include his contributions to scholarship, research, consultancy and practice, especially his outstanding achievements in human locomotor systems, to the furtherance of knowledge or its application to society, and evidence of his international peer recognition.
As an educationist and researcher in electrical, mechanical and computer engineering, Sarkodie-Gyan has always aspired to achieve the highest goals and made an impact on the academic and engineering community in his areas of operation.
During his entire career as lecturer and researcher, he has established a trusting partnership and relationship with many prominent industrial and academic institutions in Europe, Asia, South America and USA.
“Only Those Who Have Learned The Power of Sincere and Selfless Contribution Experience Life’s Deepest Joy: True Fulfillment”