Researchers from the University of Southampton received an award from the British Institute of Measurement and Control (InStMC) for a paper about a new system to help stroke victims regain their motor functions. Here’s how the technology works. As a patient moves his arm, electrodes positioned around the elbow activate the muscles below using functional electric stimulation (FES). This provides the feedback necessary for those recovering to feel what the motion should feel like, and so relearning motor skills may be accelerated.
The article abstract:
The concept of ‘learned disuse’ is thought to be a significant barrier to recovery of sensory-motor function following a stroke. Unimpaired individuals learn new skills though practice, with feedback in various forms, but the problem facing the stroke patient is that they are unable to practice because of impaired motor control. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) can provide the experience for the patient of moving and consequently may limit the problem of learnt disuse and has been used with some success to improve recovery of upper limb motor control. Recent studies have shown that when stimulation is associated with a voluntary attempt to move the limb, improvement is enhanced but these techniques do not allow feedback that could be used to adjust stimulation parameters and thus provide more precise stimulation.
This paper describes the design and construction of an experimental test facility that has been designed as part of a current project whose aim is to investigate the use of iterative learning control (ILC) and related strategies to mediate the electrical stimulation applied to a number of muscles of the shoulder and upper limb of stroke patients.
Press release: Award for innovative stroke rehabilitation technology
Abstract: An Experimental Facility for the Application of Iterative Learning Control as an Intervention Aid to Stroke Rehabilitation