David Reinkensmeyer, M.D., Ph.D.

David Reinkensmeyer, M.D., Ph.D.



David Reinkensmeyer received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, in 1988, 1991, and 1993, respectively, focusing his coursework on robotics and the neuroscience of human movement.  He carried out postdoctoral studies at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University Medical School from 1994 to 1997, building one of the first robotic devices for rehabilitation therapy after stroke.  He became an assistant professor at U.C. Irvine in 1997, establishing a research program that has developed numerous robotic and sensor-based systems for movement training and assessment following neurologic injuries such as stroke and spinal cord injury, some of which are now used worldwide.  He recently served as the chair of the National Science Foundation International Study on Technology for Mobility, and is currently the lead for iMove, a collaborative effort at UCI focused on using technology to help restore human mobility.

Research in Lay Terms

People can recover movement after neurologic injuries such as stroke and spinal cord injury with intense movement practice, but often the amount of recovery experienced is not enough.  My lab seeks to develop devices and techniques that improve the amount of recovery, based on an understanding of motor learning and neuroplasticity.

Research Focus

My lab tries to understand how to improve sensory-motor recovery following neurologic injury and disease, using robotics, information technology, and computational modeling as tools.

Research Details

The famous neurophysiologist Charles Sherrington said “to move things is all that mankind can do, and for such the sole executant is muscle, whether in whispering a syllable or in felling a forest”.  This quote highlights that movement is fundamental to human existence, and thus that loss of movement has devastating consequences.  My lab works on the premise that if we understand how the nervous system organizes itself in response to practice and experience, then we will be able to better assist people in recovering after injury and disease.  We use robotic devices to study motor learning because movement is fundamentally about interacting with Newton’s laws of motion, and robots provide a way to manipulate and control the physics of motion.  Increasingly my lab is interested in combining technologies for movement training with regenerative therapies, including stem cell therapies, to create a synergism that pushes neuro-recovery beyond what is currently possible. We are also seeking to develop sensor-based technologies for movement evaluation that improve insight into regenerative clinical trials by enabling continuous, high-resolution, mechanism-revealing assessment.

PubMed Link



Email: dreinken@uci.edu 
Phone: (949) 824-5218

Department Affiliations:
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Favorite book:
Most recently I enjoyed the western Warlock by Oakley Hall, the late director of UCI's creative writing program. A while back I really enjoyed Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Favorite Movie:
Lord of the Rings, and goofy Disney comedies from the 60's that make my kids laugh uncontrollably
Favorite Quote:
"We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong." Bono