The three-piece wearable robotic kit will aid in the rehabilitation of patients, restoring them to mobility lost due to stroke.
Strokes, which occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, is the leading cause of death and disability among adults. Among the surviving patients, about 75% will have difficulty performing daily activities independently and will require prolonged functional exercise and rehabilitation. But the results of using traditional rehabilitation equipment leave much to be desired. In addition, patients’ motivation to exercise is often low.
A new robotic system has been developed specifically for people who have suffered a stroke, who, as a rule, have difficulties in terms of full control of the limbs of the body. The development received the commercial name NCyborg. Through this system, the developers hope to provide significant assistance to critically ill people, in particular help to restore motor functions.
NCyborg is currently being developed in collaboration between China’s Tongji Hospital (affiliated with Huazhong University of Science and Technology) and Harvard’s BrainCo, a brain-to-computer interface company.
It is planned that the initially wearable system will be used for the rehabilitation of paralyzed hands of stroke victims. The device consists of three main components: an EEG (electroencephalography) headband that reads electrical signals from the brain, an arm band that reads neuromuscular signals from the forearm, and a motorized robotic glove that is worn on the arm.
When the patient tries to perform a certain action with his hand, the dressings detect the accompanying electrical signals and transmit the data to the connected computer. There, an artificial intelligence-based algorithm will link a representative electrical signal pattern to a database of hand movements. The goal is to establish which movement corresponds to each specific pattern. He then activates the glove, which will move the hand through the intended action.
The idea is that learning in this way will gradually repair the user’s damaged nerve pathways until eventually the patient can perform arm movements without any help from a robot.