Daemen to open advanced robotic-assisted rehab center

By | July 5, 2021

Slated to open in spring 2022, Daemen College’s Todd & Leslie Shatkin Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology (IMIT) will become Western New York’s most comprehensive advanced rehab facility of its kind in the region

Featuring the world’s leading robotic devices and assistive technology, IMIT will help a wide range of people with mobility and walking challenges—addressing the special health needs of the patients of all ages and abilities

Daemen College—as a leader in health-science education, research and treatment—will open a state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility, The Todd & Leslie Shatkin Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology (IMIT).

The comprehensive rehab center will offer access to leading robotic devices and assistive technology to restore motion and function following a range of injuries and illnesses.

With a recent gift of $740,000 from The Dr. Todd & Leslie Shatkin Philanthropic Fund, more than $1.565 million has been raised for the Amherst-based facility—projected to open in spring 2022.


IMIT will be unique in Western New York—offering services currently unavailable in the region—including exoskeleton-based gait training and robotics-based services for the treatment of neurodegenerative, orthopaedic and other conditions.

“IMIT will be a game changer for many,” said Dr. Michael Brogan, dean and senior vice president for academic affairs at Daemen. “By using advanced technologies to improve mobility, balance and performance, IMIT will help people of all ages and abilities achieve optimal outcomes—and become a rehabilitation and training destination in the region.”

President Olson, with Todd and Leslie Shatkin

Exoskeletons, robotics and rehab

Designed as a solution to address a lack of facilities of its kind, IMIT will offer patients unique capabilities while recovering from stroke, brain injury, concussion, spinal cord injury—or in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

“IMIT will be collaborative—not competitive—and where clinicians, patients and the community can access some of the most sophisticated equipment available in the country,” said Brogan.

Set to serve a diverse patient population of all abilities, IMIT will feature a robotic exoskeleton system that can move a person’s body through walking and motion cycles, in addition to anti-gravity treadmills, mechano-stimulation devices, an ultrasound diagnostic neuromusculoskeletal machine, and advanced pediatric equipment.

The institute will also become a key educational resource for Daemen students and faculty across its dozens of disciplines—in addition to medical professionals, patients and caregivers.

“Daemen is especially positioned to launch this ambitious and much-needed initiative,” said Dr. Gary Olson, president of Daemen. “With faculty expertise in a range of health science specialties, we look forward to helping patients make significant and sustained progress.”

Dr. Brogan, announcing IMIT at a June 29 press conference

Amherst, I-290 Medical Spine

IMIT will fit into the Town of Amherst’s growing portfolio of medical providers and specializations along the I-290 and I-90, including orthopedics and neurology.

“With a longstanding foundation of medical expertise at Daemen, the addition of the Todd & Leslie Shatkin Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology will further advance the vision for promoting a medical spine in Amherst that offers cutting-edge services,” said Brian Kulpa, supervisor of the Town of Amherst.

“Health care sectors are primed for continued growth in our community and are a major focus of our ‘Advance Amherst Recovery Plan’ focused on post-COVID economic growth,” Kulpa added.

As evidenced by the cluster of healthcare sites that have emerged, or will soon, Amherst’s biomedical economy has been growing along Youngman Highway.

“I applaud Todd and Leslie Shatkin for their generosity and their continued philanthropic support in our community,” said A.J. Baynes, CEO and president of the Amherst Chamber Of Commerce. “Through its visionary leadership from Dr. Olson, Daemen is the perfect steward to shepherd this first-in-class project that will ensure our region remains on the forefront of rehabilitation advancements.”

Community collaboration

IMIT has received support from a diverse range of foundation and government sources and donors, including $300,000 from the Odd Fellow & Rebekah Benefit Fund; $250,000 from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation; and $115,000 from Empire State Development.

IMIT has also received gifts from the James H. Cummings Foundation, The Children’s Guild Foundation and Garman Family Foundation, administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

“IMIT is possible through partnerships and collaboration—a key hallmark of Daemen,” Dr. Laura Edsberg, professor and director of the Natural and Health Sciences Research Center at the college, who will co-lead IMIT. “This institute embodies our educational and service missions to elevate human dignity and serve our community.”

* As of November 2022, Todd and Leslie Shatkin are no longer affiliated with the IMIT project.