2017 World Congress Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to announce the confirmed line-up of Keynote Speakers for the 2017 World Congress.


Grégoire Courtine, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne 

Sunday: 17:00 – 18:00

Keynote: Locomotor Neuroprosthetics 

Grégoire Courtine was trained in Mathematics, Physics, and Neurosciences. He received his PhD degree in Experimental Medicine in France in 2003. After obtaining the Chancellor Award during his post-doctoral training at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was also associate for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, he established his own laboratory at the University of Zurich in 2008. He received the Schellenberg Prize for his work in paraplegia and a prestigious fellowship from the European Research Council in 2009. In 2012, he became the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) chair in Spinal Cord Repair in the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL). Over the past 15 years, Grégoire and his team have implemented an unconventional research program with the aim to develop radically new treatment paradigms for spinal cord injury. The results of this research were recognized in various high-profile publications such as Science and Nature journals, and discussed extensively in national and international media. In 2013, he was invited to share his personal and scientific journey at TEDGlobal. In 2014, Grégoire launched his startup, G-Therapeutics, which aims to translate the medical and technological breakthroughs gained over the past 15 years into a treatment to accelerate and augment functional recovery after spinal cord injury.(http://courtine-lab.epfl.ch/) (https://www.ted.com/talks/gregoire_courtine_the_paralyzed_rat_that_walked)



Over the past decade, we developed a multipronged intervention that restored supraspinal control over leg movements in animal models of spinal cord injury. The intervention acts over two time windows. Immediately, electrochemical neuromodulation of spinal circuits enables motor control of the paralysed legs. In the long term, will-powered training regimens enabled by electrochemical neuromodulation and robotic assistance promote neuroplasticity of residual connections—an extensive rewiring that reestablishes voluntary control of movement. To identify the physiological principles underlying the therapeutic effects of this intervention, we used computational modelling, inactivation techniques and genetic manipulations. We found that our electrochemical neuromodulation therapy enables motor control through the modulation of muscle spindle feedback circuits. This framework steered the design of spatially selective spinal implants that specifically target these circuits to modulate muscle synergies responsible for flexion and extension of the legs. To reproduce the natural activation pattern of these muscle synergies during locomotion, we interfaced the leg motor cortex activity with electrochemical neuromodulation therapies in non-human primates. This wireless brain spinal interface instantly restored robust locomotor movements of a paralyzed leg in a non-human primate model of spinal cord injury. Preliminary clinical studies suggest that these concepts and technologies are directly translatable to therapeutic strategies to augment motor recovery after spinal cord injury in humans.


Susan L. Whitney, University of Pittsburgh

Monday: 13:30 – 14:30

Susan L. Whitney, PT, PhD, NCS, ATC, FAPTA received her PhD in motor development/motor learning from the University of Pittsburgh and her professional physical therapy education from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Currently, she is a professor in physical therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences within the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Therapy. Dr. Whitney has been a neurologic clinical specialist since 2001. She is the Program Director of the Centers for Rehab Services (CRS) Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She has authored or coauthored over 110 articles on Medline and is currently engaged in research related to concussion, instrument development to predict recovery in persons with balance and vestibular disorders, and vibrotactile feedback in persons with balance disorders.



Steve H. Collins, Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday: 13:30 – 14:30

Steven H. Collins is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he directs the Experimental Biomechatronics Laboratory and teaches courses on Design and Biomechatronics. His laboratory develops technology for gait rehabilitation and augmentation, with a focus on speeding and systematizing development using prosthesis and exoskeleton ‘emulators’. These versatile hardware systems allow rapid implementation of new ideas, controlled characterization of human response to device functionality, and new approaches to design and prescription involving online adaptation. Another focus is efficient autonomous devices, such as energy-recycling actuators based on electroadhesive clutches and exoskeletons that use no energy yet reduce the metabolic energy cost of human walking. Steve received his B.S. from Cornell University in 2002 and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2008. He performed postdoctoral research at T.U. Delft. He has published in Science and Nature. He is a member of the scientific board of Dynamic Walking, a recipient of the ASB Young Scientist Award, an ICRA Best Medical Devices Paper winner, and was recently voted Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year. )


Alice Nieuwboer, KU Leuven

Wednesday: 8:30 – 9:30

Alice Nieuwboer works as a full professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Leuven, teaching physiotherapy students in specialized subjects of neurological rehabilitation and evidence-based physiotherapy. She is head of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation research group and together with her team is working on several research programs which focus on the mechanisms of gait disturbances in Parkinson's disease (PD), including a prospective study on freezing of gait, combining gait and postural analyses with brain imaging. The group was the first to firmly establish the link between freezing of gait and freezing in other effectors of the motor system, and has since then published widely on this issue. Furthermore, Alice’s research team is engaged in motor learning-related work, investigating the effectiveness of writing practice and dual task gait training while offering and withdrawing motor feedback. Novel research themes include how non-invasive brain stimulation may boost neuroplasticity and whether brain dysfunction affects posture and gait control differentially in PD. Underlying all these studies is the question how motor dysfunction and recovery are intertwined in neurodegenerative disease and how this interaction imprints on the brain at the neurological systems level.


Bill McIlroy, University of Waterloo

Thursday: 13:30 – 14:30

Dr. McIlroy is Senior Scientist and Co-site Director of the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre site of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery.  He is also Senior Scientist and Mobility Team Leader at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

The primary objective of Dr. McIlroy's work is to translate basic science and clinical knowledge into post-stroke interventions that provide the best possible functional recovery in patients. This includes a focus on techniques that can maximize neurophysiologic change and recovery as well as identify more effective compensatory strategies and technologies. To meet this objective, his work ranges from basic fundamental research to clinical trials with a primary focus on mobility and balance control.




2017 Key Dates


Registration Opens:

Early 2017

Symposia Submissions:

Aug 1 - Sept 30, 2016

Oral & Poster Submissions:

Oct 3 - Dec 5, 2016

Pre-Congress Workshop Submissions:

Nov 15 - Dec 15, 2016

Awards Applications Open:

Oct 3, 2016 - Jan 9, 2017

Early Registration Deadline:

April 21, 2017

Accommodation cut off date:

May 26, 2017

Regular Registration Deadline:

June 5, 2017

2017 Congress Dates:

June 25 - 29, 2017