Researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston are currently developing a new way to help stroke survivors to recover. They’re using a brain-machine interface coupled with a robotic system to improve upper-limb rehabilitation. The robot device, called MAHI-EXO II, consists of an exoskeleton which is controlled by means of an EEG. In earlier research, the team was already successful in reconstructing 3D hand and walking motions from EEG signals. An earlier version of the robot, which is being validated in trials as we speak, was aimed at spinal-cord-injury patients.
In stroke rehabilitation it is important to train by doing repetitive motions. The new device will give stroke patients a positive stimulus during their rehabilitation. This way the damaged neural pathways can be retrained. The patient will initiate each movement, and the robot can provide guidance and motivation to perform each repetitive motion.
José Luis Contreras-Vidal, leader of the research team, expects that by putting the patient in the loop, motor learning will be accelerated and motor performance will be improved. The robot will be developed with EEGs recorded from healthy persons, stroke survivors with residual upper-limb function and finally from the brain waves of stroke survivors without residual upper-limb function. The system is currently being validated in trials.
It’s not Real Steel yet but recent progress in this field has been impressive. Previous Medgadget coverage: “RiceWrist” Robot Exoskeleton Assists in Rehab for Spinal-Cord Injury Victims
Press release from Rice University: Brain wave-reading robot might help stroke patients