Gina Bertocci

Endowed Chair of Biomechanics

J.B. Speed School of Engineering, School of Medicine

Gina Bertocci, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering with joint appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pediatrics. She is the Director of the Injury Risk Assessment and Prevention (iRAP) Laboratory at U of L. The iRAP lab brings together a multidisciplinary group of engineers, physicians, therapists and rehabilitation specialists working together to solve clinically relevant problems.

Bertocci’s research interests are in the areas of injury biomechanics and rehabilitation biomechanics. Her work has focused primarily on child abuse and wheelchair transportation safety.

In the child abuse area, her research team is at work using engineering techniques and medical principles to delineate between abusive and accidental injuries. iRAP researchers are using crash test dummies and computer simulation to investigate what types of injuries result from true accidents such as a fall from a sofa or bed so that clinicians know what to expect from these events. The more that is known about injuries resulting from true accidents, the easier it will be for clinicians to determine the compatibility between an injury and its stated cause.

Bertocci’s research in wheelchair transportation safety focuses on providing those who use their wheelchair as a motor vehicle seat with a level of safety that is equivalent to people in a motor vehicle seat. Bertocci and her team use computer simulation and crash testing to understand the loads that a wheelchair is exposed to in a crash and the level of injury risk that someone seated in a wheelchair might experience. This work will allow manufacturers to design safer wheelchairs that protect their occupants in a crash. She has worked to develop design guidelines for transit-safe wheelchairs, which has increased the number of commercially available models on the market.

She is currently conducting a research project with the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) to study wheelchair transportation safety under a collaborative grant from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety. The project will provide the first-ever real time observations of the wheelchair transportation process.

She has published more than 40 journal articles in peer-reviewed publications, and her list of peer-reviewed proceedings includes many from the Pediatric Academic Society conference and the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of America.

Before joining U of L in 2004, Bertocci had been associate professor in rehabilitation science and technology, as well as bioengineering and pediatrics, at University of Pittsburgh. She also had been director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety.

Also at Pittsburgh, Bertocci earned her doctorate in bioengineering and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.