NEUROPROSTHESES AND ROBOTICS: A PARADIGM SHIFT TO IMPROVE THE EFFICACY OF STROKE REHABILITATION AND THE RESTORATION OF MOTOR FUNCTION

The use of advanced technological solutions exploiting robotic systems and electrodes that stimulate the nervous system can increase the efficacy of stroke rehabilitation and the restoration of motor function in patients. However, a paradigm shift requires deeper understanding of the mechanisms in how the nervous system performs or learns the different types of movements.
This is the scientific perspective discussed in the article “Advanced neurotechnologies for the restoration of motor function” published in Neuron journal by a group of international scientists: Silvestro Micera, professor at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); Matteo Caleo, professor at the Department of Biomedical Sciences (University of Padova), and Institute of Neuroscience, National Research Council (CNR – Pisa); Carmelo Chisari, professor at Department of Translational Research and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery (University of Pisa); Friedhelm C. Hummel, professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); Alessandra Pedrocchi, professor at the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering (Politecnico di Milano).

The review aims to demonstrate how the combination of classical rehabilitation, robotic rehabilitation and advanced neurotechnological solutions can improve the clinical outcomes of post-stroke rehabilitation, compared with those of standard therapies. Stroke is the leading cause of adult long-term disability in Western countries and the second leading cause of death worldwide. In Europe, more than 3.7 million patients suffer from chronic stroke-related injury and only a small portion of them resume their normal life. Recent studies have shown the therapeutic role of neurostimulation and robotics. The goal is to achieve a new rehabilitative approach: a customizable therapy with wearable and modular robots according to the patient’s needs. This is an innovative frontier for the effective use of neurotechnologies in stroke survivors, as well as in people with other neurological disorders.

“It’s necessary to significantly increase – says Prof. Micera – the knowledge of neural mechanisms that regulate the motor control and neural plasticity through new neuroscientific studies and advanced computational models. Our aim is to customize the neuro-rehabilitation approach based on innovative technologies.”

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Robot Alex - © Wearable Robotics