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UMD brain cap technology turns thought into motion
Date:7/27/2011

emains is to bring all of it -- non-invasive neural decoding, direct brain control and [touch] sensory feedback -- together into one device."

In a NIH-supported project now underway, Contreras -Vidal and his colleagues are pairing their brain cap's EEG-based technology with a DARPA-funded next-generation robotic arm designed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to function like a normal limb. And the UMD team is developing a new collaboration with the New Zealand's start-up Rexbionics, the developer of a powered lower-limb exoskeleton called Rex that could be used to restore gait after spinal cord injury.

Two of the earliest partnerships formed by Contreras -Vidal and his team are with the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore. A particular focus of this research is the use of the brain cap technology to help stroke victims whose brain injuries affect their motor-sensory control. Originally funded by a seed grant from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the work now also is supported by a VA merit grant (anklebot BMI) and an NIH grant (Stroke).

"There is a big push in brain science to understand what exercise does in terms of motor learning or motor retraining of the human brain," says Larry Forrester, an associate professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

For the more than a year, Forrester and the UMD team have tracked the neural activity of people on a treadmill doing precise tasks like stepping over dotted lines. The researchers are matching specific brain activity recorded in real time with exact lower-limb movements. They just received a new NIH grant of almost 1 million dollars to support this work, which was originally funded by a small "seed" grant from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of M
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Contact: Lee Tune
ltune@umd.edu
301-405-4679
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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