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Sensory-motor integration in prosthetic applications

The recent rapid growth in the elderly population has increased the interest in assistive and therapeutic technologies. A large part of the support systems developed so far focus on the recovery and substitution of motor functions, e.g. prostheses such as arms or hands are controlled by electromyographic (EMGs) or electroencephalographic (EEGs) signals. However, even though recent devices improve upon the number and quality of motor functions, most applications still fail to provide appropriate feedback to the human body. The user is therefore faced with the inability of recognizing his own body - a problem also present in paralyzed people with damage in the afferent nervous system. The lack of bodily recognition or body awareness generates an excess of cognitive effort in controlling the body.

It is clear that an important challenge faced by rehabilitation robotics is in the form of whole body awareness with respect to extraneous body parts. We argue that in order to improve the quality and recovery time of rehabilitation processes it is necessary to also consider the coupling between the sensory and motor need of disabled people. Feedback information to the human body promotes the awareness necessary to adapt to a changing environment, and by utilizing non-invasive human-machine interfaces function recovery is endorsed without inflicting trauma to the body. We present examples of the sensory-motor coupling apparent in rehabilitation processes. Our results point to an increase in function recovery, even when using simple feedback methods.
Type of Seminar:
IfA Seminar
Alejandro Hernandez Arieta
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Department of Informatics, University of Zurich
Jun 20, 2008   9:30

ETL K25, Physikstrasse 3, Zurich
Contact Person:

Marc Lawrence
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Biographical Sketch:
Dr. Alejandro Hernandez is currently a research fellow at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. He received his Ph.D in 2007 from the University of Tokyo in precision engineering. From 2005 to 2007 he worked as a research assistant at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. He has published around 20 scientific publications and has participated as invited speaker at the colloquium for clinic and experimental neuro-psychology of Zurich University. His research interests include robot technology, assistive devices, adaptive learning, functional electrical stimulation, rehabilitation and prosthetic devices. He is a member of IEEE and the IEEE society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.