Lena Ting, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2016
For outstanding accomplishments in neuromechanics of muscle coordination for locomotion and balance

Energy-recycling Stairs Could Add a Spring to Your Step

Via The Conversation | July 12, 2017

Author: Lena TingProfessor of Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy, Emory University

“Take the stairs!” we’ve all been implored, to help maintain our health. But what if taking the stairs is painful, difficult or, worse, potentially dangerous?

In most public buildings, we can opt for an elevator or escalator ride. But at home (unless you live solely on the ground floor), taking the stairs is usually a necessity, not a choice. And as people lose mobility with age, injury or disease, it becomes more challenging. Stair negotiation is one of the top five most difficult physical tasks for older adults; in one study almost half of nondisabled older adults reported trouble climbing up stairs, and more than a quarter reported problems going down stairs.

My research collaborator, Karen Liu, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, noticed that her 72-year-old mother is still very active and can walk for miles – but complained about climbing stairs. Karen wondered whether we could engineer a little boost into her step while climbing stairs… Continue reading.

Dancing toward Better Physical Rehabilitation

Via The Conversation | July 9, 2017

To dance is human; people of all ages and levels of motor ability express movements in response to music. Professional dancers exert a great deal of creativity and energy toward developing their skills and different styles of dance. How dancers move in beautiful and sometimes unexpected ways can delight, and the synchrony between dancers moving together can be entrancing.

To us as a neuroscientist and biomechanist (Lena), and a rehabilitation scientist and dancer (Madeleine), understanding the complexities of motor skill in a ballet move, or the physical language of coordination in partner dance, is an inspiring and daunting challenge.

Understanding how dancers move has important real-world implications, too. In our work, we’re studying gait and balance in different populations, as well as how holding hands – such as in partner dance – can actually help people walk and balance better. The ultimate goal is to help better design and prescribe rehabilitation to those with reduced mobility, as well as to develop robots that can physically interact with people to help with both motor assistance and motor learning… Continue reading.

Neuromechanics of Flamingos’ Amazing Feats of Balance

Via The Conversation | May 23, 2017


Lena TingProfessor of Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy, Emory University
Young-Hui ChangProfessor of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology

If you’ve watched flamingos at the zoo – or if you’re lucky, in the wild – you’ve likely wondered how flamingos manage to sleep standing on one leg.

Of course, as humans, we think standing on one leg is hard because it’s difficult for us. Tree pose in yoga becomes increasingly difficult as you lift your leg higher, reach your arms up and tilt your head. It becomes almost impossible if you close your eyes. Most of us wobble and sway, then put a foot down, and shake out the leg we were standing on.

As scientists, the two of us are interested in how the brain controls the body – a field we call neuromechanics, at the intersection of biomechanics and neuroscience. Our latest research question: Just how do flamingos stand on one leg? Our search brought us up close and personal with a flock of juvenile flamingos and even flamingo skeletons and cadavers to figure out how they achieve their amazing feats of balance… Continue reading.


Lena Ting, Ph.D. To be Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite

Via AIMBE | January 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Lena Ting, Ph.D., Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Institue of Technology, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Ting was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For outstanding accomplishments in neuromechanics of muscle coordination for locomotion and balance.