Visible to the public Cybernetic Interfaces for the Restoration of Human Movement through Functional Electrical Stimulation


Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a promising technology for activating muscles in spinal cord injured (SCI) patients. The objective of our project is to develop an intuitive user interface and control system for FES that allows high--level tetraplegic patients to regain the use of their own arm. This work will have two primary outcomes: the development of a new technology that dramatically impacts the lives of SCI patients, and the development of biologically--inspired design principles for cyber--physical systems.

The project can be broadly divided into two components: decoder development for determining how the subjects wish to move their arm, and controller development for getting the arm to the desired location (Fig. 1). We are using both human and animal models for each of these project components, allowing us to investigate both the practical issues relevant to our current human subjects, and longer term questions dependent on the development of more robust cyber--physical interfaces for FES control. During the past year, we have been able to make measurements in all human and animal preparations. Scientific progress has focused on the areas of real--time decoder evaluation, system identification for controller development, and transfer of our developed systems to our target population with SCI.

Figure 1: Summary of project components. Scientific work in the first three years has focused on Tasks 1, 2, and 3, as well as the transfer of knowledge from these sub--goals to our target subjects with SCI.

In addition to our scientific work, we have expanded our outreach program aimed at enhancing educational outcomes in science, math, technology and communication. All aspects of the program were linked to the recently developed Common Core Standards for Math and Language Arts education, and are centered around cyber--physical applications in rehabilitation medicine. The target audience is children in grades 6--8. Sixty children participated in our second year, during which we implemented separate full--year curricula for students in each grade.

Award ID: 0932263

Creative Commons 2.5