Theratainment a rehabilitation game changer

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Theratainment a rehabilitation game changer

When the University of North Dakota's engineering adviser explained the biomedical program, it was the perfect combination of technology and medicine for Ashley Hahn.

Hahn, a native of Hazen, N.D., created Theratainment as an electrical engineer graduate school project. Theratainment is a form of rehabilitation that uses electronic technology for muscular rehabilitation. "

"We're adding a gaming component to physical therapy. We're using electro-technology that is wire-safe connected to the computer. You go online, pick a game, and play that game using your muscle contractions. The software in the electrodes tracks the patient's progress, and automatically adjusts the therapy as needed," said Hahn.

"Not only is the physical therapist seeing that you're doing the exercises, but how well you're doing them. They can adapt your therapy process and make changes to your exercise regimen," said Hahn.

Interest since high school

"I took a lot of classes that challenged me. I took a lot of anatomy and physiology— but I also took a lot of computer classes. I also took a computer class where we built a computer from scratch and loved the hardware side of technology."

On the second day of UND's new student orientation, students met with their advisers to figure out class schedules. Hahn had her heart set on medical school, but there were 50-plus students waiting for the medical adviser.

"I waited two hours for the medical adviser to open up. My friends were all done and were ready to grab some lunch. So I told myself the next adviser who opened up, that'll be my major," said Hahn.

That next adviser was the engineering adviser.

"I sat down with Dr. Heckman [David Heckman, assistant professor of electrical engineering] and told him 'I don't know much about engineering but what are your disciplines?'" said Hahn. "He was describing what electrical engineers do and told me about the biomedical program that was starting up. I told him I'd give it a try—it seemed to be the best of both worlds."

When the engineering adviser explained the biomedical program, Hahn knew it was exactly what she wanted. Declaring an electrical engineering major allowed Hahn to explore her technology interests while adding the medical component.

Hahn, who graduated from UND in 2010 with a master of science in electrical engineering and entrepreneurship with an investment focus, now works at the Center for Innovation as a "creatologist." As a creatologist, Hahn organizes workshops for physicians in the region to inform them about how to start their own businesses. She helps them create business plans and explore options such as funding. She is also working on her Theratainment business which is currently based out of Fargo.

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