Robert Kirsch, PhD

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Case School of Engineering, School of Medicine
Executive Director
Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center
Allen H. and Constance T. Ford Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Case School of Engineering, School of Medicine

Dr. Robert F. Kirsch, Ph.D. is the Allen H. and Constance T. Ford Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service “Center for Functional Electrical Stimulation”. He is the Principal Investigator of the Case-Coulter Translational Research partnership, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the Chair of the national BME Council of Chairs (2017), the Director of a NIBIB T32 training grant, and a member of advisory boards for a number of biomedical engineering departments, research centers, and training grants across the US and internationally. His research focuses on the restoration of arm movements to individuals with complete paralysis of arm muscles due to spinal cord injury or other neurological disorders using functional electrical stimulation (FES), as well as high performance user command interfaces such as brain computer interfaces and advanced prosthetic user interfaces. He received a BS in electrical engineering (University of Cincinnati) and the MS and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering (Northwestern University), and completed post-doctoral research (McGill University).

Learn more about Robert Kirsch's work at ReHAb Study.

Research Information

Research Interests

My research focuses on the mechanics and control of human movement with the goal of restoring functional movement to people with disabilities.

In this work, I study the properties of the intact body to determine basic mechanical properties and to understand how the nervous system normally controls movement. I also study individuals with neurological disorders such as spinal cord injury to determine how we can restore movements using electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles (FES), or surgical procedures such as muscle tendon transfers. Recent applications also include work with providing commands to advanced prosthetic arms and hands.

Current projects to achieve these goals include:

Studying new ways for users to provide commands to a rehabilitation technology, including recording from retained muscles and recording from the brain using brain-computer interfaces.

Developing advanced feedback control algorithms

Designing and building new implantable medical devices to record nerve activity from the periphery, position, and orientation

Recording patterns of muscle activations in people who have amputations to seamlessly provide commands to advanced prostheses

Our group uses several scientific and engineering techniques to study these issues, including computer-based modeling of the human arm, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic controllers, robotics and haptic feedback devices, virtual reality simulations, advanced feedforward and feedback control theory, system identification, and dimension reduction.

My research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wallace A. Coulter Foundation, and the Army Telemedicine and Technology Research Center.


  • Brandman DM, Hosman T, Saab J, Burkhart MC, Shanahan BE, Ciancibello JG, Sarma AA, Milstein DJ, Vargas-Irwin CE, Franco B, Kelemen J, Blabe C, Murphy BA, Young  DR, Willett FR, Pandarinath C, Stavisky SD, Kirsch RF, Walter BL, Bolu Ajiboye A, Cash SS, Eskandar EN, Miller JP, Sweet JA, Shenoy KV, Henderson JM, Jarosiewicz B, Harrison MT, Simeral JD, Hochberg LR. Rapid calibration of an intracortical brain-computer interface for people with tetraplegia. J Neural Eng. 2018 Apr;15(2):026007. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa9ee7. PubMed PMID: 29363625; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5823702.
  • Young D, Willett F, Memberg WD, Murphy B, Walter B, Sweet J, Miller J, Hochberg LR, Kirsch RF, Ajiboye AB. Signal processing methods for reducing artifacts in microelectrode brain recordings caused by functional electrical stimulation. J Neural Eng. 2018 Apr;15(2):026014. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa9ee8. PubMed PMID: 29199642; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5818316.
  • Willett FR, Murphy BA, Young DR, Memberg WD, Blabe CH, Pandarinath C, Franco B, Saab J, Walter BL, Sweet JA, Miller JP, Henderson JM, Shenoy KV, Simeral JD, Jarosiewicz B, Hochberg LR, Kirsch RF, Ajiboye AB. A Comparison of Intention Estimation Methods for Decoder Calibration in Intracortical Brain-Computer Interfaces. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2017 Dec 14. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2017.2783358. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29989927; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6043406.

Full list of Publications

Additional Information