Northern California Science Writers Association

Healthcare and Human Augmentation: A Conversation with Caitlyn Seim

  • Thursday, October 07, 2021
  • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • Zoom (link will be sent to registrants before the talk)


Registration is closed

A new approach to treating patients who’ve suffered strokes could come from the field of wearable technology. By the year 2030, nearly 4% of American adults will have had a stroke, according to the American Heart Association, and as many as 80% of those who survive will end up with weakness and loss of sensation in their arms and hands. Most health insurers cover a limited amount of exercise-based stroke rehabilitation, and half of stroke survivors don’t have the mobility to even access these programs.

To close this gap, Caitlyn Seim has engineered a high-tech glove that she and her collaborators hope will one day let stroke survivors recover lost function in the comfort of their homes. Dr. Seim will discuss her work at the intersection of computing devices and the body, aiming to define new methods in healthcare and human augmentation.  

Building on a background in electrical engineering, Seim did her PhD developing wearable technology using haptics (technology for touch and force feedback) with applications such as teaching piano or reading Braille. Now, as a member of the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine Lab at Stanford University, she combines this background with training in neurology and rehabilitation to design and test new technology-based interventions to improve sensorimotor function. Her work focuses on two areas:

Health and Clinical Devices

Mobile and wearable devices can provide access to healthcare solutions outside a clinical environment. Telehealth can increase convenience, affordability, and encourage routine monitoring that enables early intervention before conditions become critical. Though many groups face barriers to healthcare access both in the United States and globally, mobile technology may provide new treatment options and more accessible care.

Human Augmentation

Seim’s research also aims to develop mobile and wearable technologies to augment human performance and resilience. Computerized learning and training aids can enhance skill acquisition for those with intact abilities and those with disabilities. Beyond skill acquisition, Seim is exploring the cusp of human-computer integration, including body-mounted or body-integrated devices.

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