HOUSTON (Aug. 20, 2012) What comes naturally to most people to think and then do is difficult for stroke patients who have lost the full use of their limbs. New research by Rice University, the University of Houston (UH) and TIRR Memorial Hermann aims to help victims recover that ability to the fullest extent possible with a $1.17 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the President's National Robotics Initiative (NRI).
The multidisciplinary team hopes to develop and validate a noninvasive brain-machine interface (BMI) to a robotic orthotic device that is expected to innovate upper-limb rehabilitation. The new neurotechnology will interpret brain waves that let a stroke patient willingly operate an exoskeleton that wraps around the arm from the fingertips to the elbow.
Rice is developing the exoskeleton and UH the electroencephalograph-based (EEG) neural interface. The combined device will be validated by UTHealth physicians at TIRR Memorial Hermann with as many as 40 volunteer patients in the final two years of the four-year R01 award, the oldest research grant offered by NIH. The grant, funded through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is one of only a few projects selected by the NRI, a collaborative partnership by the NIH, National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Agriculture to encourage the development of the next generation of robots that will work closely with humans.
Repetitive motion has proven effective at retraining motor nerve pathways damaged by a stroke, but patients must be motivated to do the work, said principal investigator Marcia O'Malley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Rice and director of Rice's Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab.
"With a lot of robotics, if you want to engage the patient, the robot has to know what the patient is doing," O'Malley said. "If the patient tries to mo
|Contact: David Ruth|