Dr. Fabrizio Sergi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rice University
Optimizing robotic neurorehabilitation through combination of haptics and neuroimaging
Repetitive movement therapy is currently the standard therapeutic program used to promote motor recovery after neurological injuries, such as stroke and incomplete spinal cord injury. Robotic devices have been developed in the last two decades, showing increasing potential in
automating movement therapy, due to the possibility for high-intensity training, systematic and repeatable assistance schemes, and accurate performance measurement. The growing application field of rehabilitation introduces novel and multidisciplinary challenges to robotics, which include the ergonomic design of human-interacting systems, the development of
actuators capable of large force and impedance dynamic range, and the implementation of smart assistance algorithms which modulate assistance in a subject-adaptive way. During this talk, I will present how my previous research has addressed some of the above mentioned issues, showing examples pertaining to both lower and upper extremity movement training. In the context of lower extremity training, I will present a novel methodology for the exhaustive design and optimization of wearable robots, and show how such methodology has been applied for the development of a non-anthropomorphic wearable orthosis for gait assistance with improved intrinsic dynamics and ergonomics. Further, I will present a novel controller capable of on-line estimate of the residual capabilities of the subject during training and of subject-adaptive
assistance, and show how this controller is currently being tested in a clinical study targeting upper-extremity recovery of function in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. I will then introduce a new line of research, which aims at combining haptics and functional neuroimaging.
I will present the recent development of a novel actuation technology enabling the execution of shared motor protocols with accurate haptic feedback during functional MRI. I will conclude discussing how such technology can have a value in innovating current practices in robotic
rehabilitation, enabling subject-specific protocols promoting optimal functional reorganization after neurological injury, and present steps toward the achievement of this goal.
Dr. Fabrizio Sergi received his B.Sc. (2005), M.Sc. (2007) and Ph.D. (2011) from Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Rome, Italy. He is currently a Research Scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, Houston, Texas, following postdoctoral training conducted jointly at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. His main research interest is in the field of biorobotics, and in particular in the development of novel, high performance robotic technologies for physical interaction with humans, with a focus on the application to motor neurorehabilitation, functional neuroimaging and biomechanics.
Invited by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1