When he was 15, Maciej Pietrusinski and his family fled the economic woes of Poland's first attempt at capitalism and immigrated to the United States. Now 33, he is pursuing a promising career in the field of rehabilitation robotics and wearable exoskeleton design.
He appreciates the important guidance and assistance the Center for Research Innovation (CRI) provided along a journey that has led to creating his own company, AndrosRobotics, in 2012.
As a lifelong runner and cyclist, and former rower, Pietrusinski was always curious about human locomotion. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering then turned his attention to developing a novel lower-body exoskeleton. He concentrated on therapeutic robotics as a way to treat injury and trauma.
With the help of his Northeastern University PhD, and the assistance and insights of CRI, Pietrusinski 's highly focused work will help stroke victims rehabilitate better and faster. AndrosRobotics is a spinoff company from the Biomedical Mechatronics Laboratory in the department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University.
"This really was a collaborative effort with the CRI, HSE (Health Sciences Entrepreneurs), the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and my academic advisor Prof. Constantinos Mavroidis, who was very supportive of forming a company and is now one of the founding members " said Pietrusinski.
Dr. Paolo Bonato at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, identified the critical need for such devices and came up with the original idea. Working with him and Prof. Mavroidis, Pietrusinski developed a prototype as part of his PhD thesis. Four years later, the Robotic Gait Rehabilitation (RGR) Trainer was a reality, his PhD was complete, and AndrosRobotics LLC was born.
Established in 2012, AndrosRobotics develops and markets clinician-tested rehabilitation devices that also measure joint position while providing corrective motion support. The mechanisms apply a therapeutic guiding force to specific treatment areas while providing objective, patient performance-monitoring digital data for use by therapists, caseworkers, and patients.
The RGR Trainer will be one of AndrosRobotics' first products and will provide gait therapy for stroke victims. The system is being tested at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. During therapeutic walking sessions on a treadmill, patients have corrective guiding pressure applied to their pelvic area by the RGR Trainer.
"CRI is very helpful with protecting our innovative ideas," said Pietrusinski. Along with HSE, he explained, CRI helped Pietrusinski with grant proposals, business models, patent applications, intellectual property issues, marketing plans and approaches to venture capitalists.
He continues to apply his CRI experiences while regularly networking with fellow Northeastern alumni, which offers excellent opportunities for brainstorming.
There's now a second product, the 2-DoF Robotic Hand Rehabilitation System, which performs similar therapeutic and data monitoring activities for the hand.
"There's always a risk, but I remind myself and others that this is the right time to take it,” said Pietrusinski. “I know the field, I have developed relationships, and I know that I have the support of the university."