UNTHSC-Nicoleta-BugnariuDr. Nicoleta Bugnariu’s research focuses on hypotheses related to the control of balance, gait and functional movements using the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment Network (CAREN GRAIL system by MotekForcelink). She also utilizes the system to develop new rehabilitation protocols.


Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, PhD has expertise and research interest in:

  • Underlying mechanisms controlling sensorimotor function
  • Virtual reality and robotic technologies as evaluation and rehabilitation tools;
  • Sensory integration and development of motor function in neuro-typical and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders;
  • Age-related changes in the systems involved in postural control
  • Balance rehabilitation and falls prevention
  • Stroke rehabilitation

Dr. Bugnariu research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Texas Medical Research Collaborative consortium (TxMRC) and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS), etc.

Current projects :

  1. Multi-modal sensor skin and garments for healthcare and home robots” funded by NSF in collaboration with Dr. Dan Popa from University of Arlington. The aim of this project is to develop and implement sensors in the skin/garments of robots in a way that the robot can sense human intent and facilitate movement.
  2. Good hearing, steady feet: Developing auditory devices that improve hearing and decrease the risk for falls”, supported by TxMRC in collaboration with Dr. Linda Thibodeau from University of Dallas. The project investigates the relationship between auditory inputs and balance and evaluates the effects of different types of hearing aids technologies on gait and balance in older adults with hearing
  3. Integrating new technologies to assess visual and attentional influences on movement and imitative behavior in Autism funded by NSF in collaboration with Dr. Haylie Miller and Dr. Carolyn Garver, director of Autism Treatment Center in Dallas, this project investigates the motor imitation behavior in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. We assess the attention and visual interests using an eye tracker as children reach and perform imitation behaviors while interacting with a robot.
  4. “Falls prevention through retraining sensory weighting using a virtual environment and vibrotactile biofeedback”. We have developed realistic virtual environments coupled with movements of the surface on which patients stand, walk, and practice balance tasks. In order to decrease visual dependency and retrain sensory weighting, manipulation of visual input is achieved by introducing visual distractions. The training is coupled with a vibrotactile biofeedback system that augments somatosensory information in patients with peripheral neuropathies.