Robot-Assisted Therapeutic Engineering |  UDaily

Robot-Assisted Therapeutic Engineering | UDaily

Thanks to $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, a team of engineers led by Panagiotis Artemiadis (left insert) in collaboration with co-investigators Fabrizio Sergi (right), Jill Higginson and Tom Buchanan will work to improve post-stroke rehabilitation with the help of robots.

Thanks to $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, a team of engineers led by Panagiotis Artemiadis (left insert) in collaboration with co-investigators Fabrizio Sergi (right), Jill Higginson and Tom Buchanan will work to improve post-stroke rehabilitation with the help of robots.

Photo by Ivan Crepe

UD engineers are studying how robotic devices can guide personalized rehabilitation strategies for stroke patients

Each year in the United States, approximately 800,000 people have a stroke, and stroke survivors often experience decreased mobility and an increased risk of long-term disabilities. proces recovery and rehabilitation In this group of patients it is physically and mentally challenging and can take weeks or years before strength, control and sensation are fully restored.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of Delaware College of Engineering It will improve post-stroke rehabilitation. With $1.2 million in financing from National Institutes of Healththis is Project You will use robotic exoskeleton devices and advanced modeling techniques to develop patient-specific exercises and interventions using a ‘therapeutic engineering’ approach.

will lead this work Panagiotis ArtemiadisAssociate Professor with joint appointments in departments Mechanical engineering And the Biomedical engineering. Collaborators and co-investigators, also with those common designations, are Fabrizio SergiCo-professor , Jill Higginsonassociate professor and dean for graduate and postgraduate education and director of the Engineering Oriented Health Institute, W Tom BuchananGeorge W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Post-stroke rehabilitation research

Previous and ongoing research projects at UD have focused on many aspects of the post-stroke rehabilitation process, from how the body perceives its position and movements (proprioception) to restore lost language and speech abilities (Loss of ability to speak).

PhD student Gilhwan Kim (right) demonstrates the robotic device and adaptive treadmill setup, a unique approach that closely mimics how patients respond in real-world environments.

PhD student Gilhwan Kim (right) demonstrates the robotic device and adaptive treadmill setup, a unique approach that closely mimics how patients respond in real-world environments.

This newly funded project led by Artemiadis builds on previous research on exoskeletons, work that was conducted as part of the A project funded by the National Institutes of Health It includes Buchanan, Higginson and Sunil Agrawal (now at Columbia University), and includes “a completely different approach and set of tools” toward improving post-stroke rehabilitation, Buchanan said.

“In some ways, it continues a theme that we started many years ago, but it uses a whole new set of tools, and that’s what makes this really exciting,” Buchanan added.

Higginson said the work also builds on her and Sergey’s research program through GOALL PROJECT, which includes focusing on smaller “bursts” in movement with the help of robotic systems and adaptive treadmills. “Since then, Panos has come to campus, and he brings a completely different style that takes this work a step further,” said Higginson. “Overall, this new project is a really innovative way to look at manipulating how someone moves.”

Accuracy and customization

One of the main goals of this research, Artemiades said, is to develop mathematical models of human gait and how the brain controls the movement of the legs while walking. These models will be developed from the data collected on a unique device, the variable-intensity treadmill, which also allows for a more dynamic assessment of the patient’s gait. The variable-intensity treadmill was developed in Artemiadis’ lab and is used in various projects with humans and Android walkers.

“Once we have a representative model, a patient who needs gait rehabilitation can come into the clinic, and after evaluating specific things, like joints, which muscles need to be reactivated, a personalized type of treatment can be suggested,” Artemiadis said. “Our goal is to have a model of the individual that allows us to design exactly what the robot will do during treatment that can lead to better outcomes.”

One of the key advantages of this study design, Sergey said, is the robotic device’s ability to deliver very precise interventions that help patients perform the specific, repetitive movements patients need during the rehabilitation process.

Doctoral student GilHwan Kim (right) uses an adaptive treadmill in the Human Robotics Lab on the UD Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus.

Doctoral student GilHwan Kim (right) uses an adaptive treadmill in the Human Robotics Lab on the UD Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus.

“In the context of walking, it is important to provide mechanical stimuli in a manner synchronized with the moment at which maximum thrust results. If you apply a force in a 150-millisecond (millisecond) window, for example, you can use the form to ask what would happen if you applied This force after 200 milliseconds, ”said Sergey. “But in order to do that, you need to collect data precisely synchronized with human walking, and you can only do that with an automated system.”

Artemiadis added, “When you have a stroke, the connections between the brain and neurons die in a certain area, and only by practicing certain movements that you lost will you restore those connections again.” “The more you practice certain movements, the more the limb and brain can learn to control that movement. This is why robot-assisted gait rehabilitation is so promising.”

Relying on an adaptive walker, which simulates how patients move outside the clinic, he said, could also improve retention, or how well patients are able to take what they did in therapy and apply it to their daily lives. Higginson. “Being able to see these changes in real time, get the user experience and know what it feels like to go more quickly because of the help they’ve received can be helpful,” she said.

Push the field forward

The researchers involved in this project will bring together a unique set of expertise to tackle this research challenge – with Artemiadis’ knowledge of human-robot interactions, limb coordination and the study of gait in dynamic environmentsSergey’s research on wearable exoskeletons and gait propulsion, and Higginson and Buchanan’s expertise in anatomy, biomechanics, and neuromuscular control.

Jill Higginson (left), professor and associate dean for higher and graduate education and director of the Institute for Engineering-Oriented Health, and Tom Buchanan, professor of mechanical engineering at George W. Laird University, are also co-researchers for this grant.

Jill Higginson (left), professor and associate dean for higher and graduate education and director of the Institute for Engineering-Oriented Health, and Tom Buchanan, professor of mechanical engineering at George W. Laird University, are also co-researchers for this grant.

“This project is a novel use of robotics applied to the study of human gait, but the real strength of this work is the team that we have and the diversity in the ways different faculty look at this problem,” Buchanan said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of this project.”

Besides improving the mobility of post-stroke patients, this work could also help researchers better understand human gait, which is critical to developing more accurate models and new applications for robotics in healthcare, Artemiadis said.

“For robotic-assisted interventions, we need to know what exactly needs to be done to get the brain involved in this movement — not just pushing your legs to walk, it reacting to the legs and the strong interaction with the legs is what makes that more efficient in terms of rehabilitation,” Artemiadis said. .

One of the biggest challenges, both for the field as well as for this particular project, Sergei said, is coming up with a personalized treatment model, a challenge that “is also its main benefit.” “One of the main needs of this population is to improve mobility and gait, and these approaches go in the direction of understanding how well we can customize the therapeutic programs and movement-based therapies that are part of post-stroke rehabilitation.”

Higginson said it’s fun to be part of a team that brings together different areas of expertise.

“I’m looking forward to being able to apply the computational results, based on all the experimental data, and to be able to identify differences between the interventions,” Higginson said. “I think this could be useful for moving the field forward.”

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