Novel Clinical-Driven Robotic Device for Sensorimotor Training

Research on neurorehabilitation has emphasized that patient’s effort and somatosensory information (i.e., the information about the interaction with the environment) during physical training are crucial to provoke brain plasticity. This project aims to develop a novel clinical-driven and cost-effective upper limb rehabilitation robot in order to promote simultaneously sensor and motor recovery in neurological patients with a large range of disability levels and different stages of recovery.

Our goal is to develop a novel arm rehabilitation robot that allows high functional training, such as training of activities of daily living with rich rendered virtual dynamics. From the beginning of the development process, we have partnered with the clinicians at the Department of Neurology of Inselspital, Bern in order to analyse the specific needs of patients and clinicians undergoing sensorimotor training. Special attention is paid to ensuring system transparency in order to allow high functional training of activities of daily living without hampering the ability of less disabled patients to perform movements. The novel robotic device will be complemented by newly developed VR environments that provide visual feedback to facilitate training and to increase patients’ motivation. Virtual objects with rich dynamics and surface properties that provide purposeful sensations will be used in order to enhance the patients’ sensory system while training their motor system.

Our project will provide new insights into sensorimotor training, and it will result in a commercial clinical-driven sensorimotor robotic trainer. We partnered with Force Dimension, the worldwide recognized Swiss company pioneer in designing and manufacturing high precision haptic interfaces, to reach our commercialization goal.

Photo: Adrian Moser for ARTORG Center