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Control of trunk posture to improve gait rehabilitation

Recently featured in “Scientific Reports”, a rehabilitation robotic system that controls trunk posture in closed-loop improves locomotor performance during gait rehabilitation after spinal cord injury. To date, rehabilitation robotics has primarily focused on assistive devices that guide leg movements in order to maximize locomotor consistency and effort during training. Despite the importance of trunk posture …

Announcement of a new NCCR Robotics associate PI: Laura Marchal Crespo

We are happy to announce that Prof. Laura Marchal-Crespo from ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, University of Bern, has joined our NCCR Robotics community as associate PI in December 2017. Please join us welcoming Prof. Marchal-Crespo – her competences will be a great contribution to our research. – Dario Floreano (NCCR Director) and Robert Riener (NCCR Co-director) Laura Marchal-Crespo is an Assistant Professor at the …

Control of Motor-Imagery BCI by a User with Locked-In Syndrome

Using Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) as a way to give people with locked-in syndrome back reliable communication and control capabilities has long been a futuristic trope of medical dramas and sci fi. A team from NCCR Robotics and CNBI, EPFL have recently published a paper detailing work as a step towards taking this technique into everyday lives …

Upcoming Events

Date/Time Event Description
7 Jul – 13 Jul 2019
All Day
Summer School on Rehabilitation Robotics
Shangai Jiao Tong University, Shangai
The Summer School on Rehabilitation Robotics will take place at the Biomedical Engineering School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) between 7-13 July 2019. Organisers: - SJTU: Prof. Shanbao Tong, Prof....

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
25 Jan 2018
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Motor learning and neurorehabilitation: training with or without errors? - A talk by Professor Laura Marchal Crespo Abstract: There is increasing interest in using robotic devices to provide rehabilitation therapy following stroke. Robotic guidance is generally used in motor training to reduce performance errors while practicing. However,...
25 Jul 2017
6:30 pm
ROBOTIK-LABOR AN DER ETH ZÜRICH - TeleZüri Sendung Tune into TeleZüri at 18:30 to hear Robert Riener speaking about all things rehabilitation robotics and Cybathlon.
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Looking for publications? You might want to consider searching on the EPFL Infoscience site which provides advanced publication search capabilities.

A survey of sensor fusion methods in wearable robotics

  • Authors: Novak, Domen; Riener, Robert

Modern wearable robots are not yet intelligent enough to fully satisfy the demands of endusers, as they lack the sensor fusion algorithms needed to provide optimal assistance and react quickly to perturbations or changes in user intentions. Sensor fusion applications such as intention detection have been emphasized as a major challenge for both robotic orthoses and prostheses. In order to better examine the strengths and shortcomings of the field, this paper presents a review of existing sensor fusion methods for wearable robots, both stationary ones such as rehabilitation exoskeletons and portable ones such as active prostheses and full-body exoskeletons. Fusion methods are first presented as applied to individual sensing modalities (primarily electromyography, electroencephalography and mechanical sensors), and then four approaches to combining multiple modalities are presented. The strengths and weaknesses of the different methods are compared, and recommendations are made for future sensor fusion research.

Posted on: October 22, 2014

A wireless brain-spine interface alleviating gait deficits after Parkinson’s disease in primates

Authors: Milekovic, T.; Raschella, F.; Schiavone, G.; Capogrosso, M.; Micera, S.; Courtine, G.; Lacour, S.


  • Lemanic Neuroscience Annual Meeting
“Levodopa and deep brain stimulation alleviate most of the symptoms associated with Parkinson*s disease. However, axial gait disorders are less responsive to these treatments. These deficits include short and slow steps, balance deficits and freezing of gait that involves episodes during which the affected persons are not capable of initiating locomotion.
Over the past decade, we have established a mechanistic and technological framework that guided the design of electrical spinal cord stimulation protocols engaging extensor and flexor muscle groups. We created an interface between the leg motor cortex activity and these spatially selective stimulation protocols, so as to engineer a brain*spine interface * a neuroprosthetic system that reinforced intended movements. As early as 6 days after spinal cord injury, this brain*spine interface restored weight-bearing locomotor movements of the paralyzed leg in nonhuman primates. Here, we show that the brain- spine interface effectively alleviates axial gait deficits observed in Parkinson*s disease. These experiments were conducted in MPTP-treated Rhesus macaque monkeys, which is the gold model to reproduce Parkinson*s disease symptomatology. After MPTP treatment, a rhesus macaque was implanted with the wireless brain-spine interface. Brain recordings of the left and right leg motor cortex were used to detect neural states related to flexion and extension movements of both legs while the animal walked freely overground or over a horizontal ladder. The detection of these gait events controlled an implanted pulse generator that delivered electrical stimulation through two e-dura electrode array implants that covered the dorsal aspects of the lumbar and sacral spinal cord.”


  • Date: 2017
Posted on: April 8, 2019

Advantages of soft subdural implants for the delivery of electrochemical neuromodulation therapies to the spinal cord

Authors: Capogrosso, M.; Gandar, J.; Greiner, N.; Moraud, E. M.; Wenger, N.; Shkorbatova, P.; Musienko, P.; Minev, I.; Lacour, S.; Courtine, C.


  • Journal of Neural Engineering, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 026024, Feb. 2018
Objective. We recently developed soft neural interfaces enabling the delivery of electrical and chemical stimulation to the spinal cord. These stimulations restored locomotion in animal models of paralysis. Soft interfaces can be placed either below or above the dura mater. Theoretically, the subdural location combines many advantages, including increased selectivity of electrical stimulation, lower stimulation thresholds, and targeted chemical stimulation through local drug delivery. However, these advantages have not been documented, nor have their functional impact been studied in silico or in a relevant animal model of neurological disorders using a multimodal neural interface. Approach. We characterized the recruitment properties of subdural interfaces using a realistic computational model of the rat spinal cord that included explicit representation of the spinal roots. We then validated and complemented computer simulations with electrophysiological experiments in rats. We additionally performed behavioral experiments in rats that received a lateral spinal cord hemisection and were implanted with a soft interface. Main results. In silico and in vivo experiments showed that the subdural location decreased stimulation thresholds compared to the epidural location while retaining high specificity. This feature reduces power consumption and risks of long-term damage in the tissues, thus increasing the clinical safety profile of this approach. The hemisection induced a transient paralysis of the leg ipsilateral to the injury. During this period, the delivery of electrical stimulation restricted to the injured side combined with local chemical modulation enabled coordinated locomotor movements of the paralyzed leg without affecting the non-impaired leg in all tested rats. Electrode properties remained stable over time, while anatomical examinations revealed excellent bio-integration properties. Significance. Soft neural interfaces inserted subdurally provide the opportunity to deliver electrical and chemical neuromodulation therapies using a single, bio-compatible and mechanically compliant device that effectively alleviates locomotor deficits after spinal cord injury.


Posted on: April 8, 2019

Enhancing patient freedom in rehabilitation robotics using gaze-based intention detection

  • Authors: Novak, Domen; Riener, Robert

Several design strategies for rehabilitation robotics have aimed to improve patients’ experiences using motivating and engaging virtual environments. This paper presents a new design strategy: enhancing patient freedom with a complex virtual environment that intelligently detects patients’ intentions and supports the intended actions. A `virtual kitchen’ scenario has been developed in which many possible actions can be performed at any time, allowing patients to experiment and giving them more freedom. Remote eye tracking is used to detect the intended action and trigger appropriate support by a rehabilitation robot. This approach requires no additional equipment attached to the patient and has a calibration time of less than a minute. The system was tested on healthy subjects using the ARMin III arm rehabilitation robot. It was found to be technically feasible and usable by healthy subjects. However, the intention detection algorithm should be improved using better sensor fusion, and clinical tests with patients are needed to evaluate the system’s usability and potential therapeutic benefits.

Posted on: June 18, 2014

Increasing motivation in robot-aided arm rehabilitation with competitive and cooperative gameplay

  • Authors: Novak, Domen; Nagle, Aniket; Keller, Urs; Riener, Robert

Several strategies have been proposed to improve patient motivation and exercise intensity during robot-aided stroke rehabilitation. One relatively unexplored possibility is two-player gameplay, allowing subjects to compete or cooperate with each other to achieve a common goal. In order to explore the potential of such games, we designed a two-player game played using two ARMin arm rehabilitation robots.

Posted on: May 12, 2014