Robot-assisted gait rehabilitation combined with functional electrical stimulation and biofeedback

Develop a hybrid system that can provide FES with the appropriate control scheme to sustain muscle performance. Test the system’s effectiveness on healthy subjects, stroke survivors and spinal cord injury patients and investigate the effects of incorporating different forms of biofeedback to the therapy.
Description of the Project: 

Neuromuscular deficiencies often diminish gait coordination and in turn lead to a higher risk of fall. The patient’s interaction with the environment becomes unstable and unsafe and this has an effect on their confidence, overall health and quality of life. To minimise the adverse effects associated with gait impairments, apart from conventional therapy, robot-assisted physical therapy has gained attention where the safe human-robot interaction is essential.

This project aims to examine the effectiveness hybrid systems in a holistic approach. This includes the design, fabrication and testing of a robotic device that can deliver FES and the investigation of possible biofeedback mechanisms to enhance the user’s involvement. The student will be expected to develop the appropriate control schemes that will allow for the retardation of muscle fatigue and accurate regulation of the trajectories of the lower-limbs. The end goal of this project will be to develop and test the device not only with healthy subjects but also with spinal cord injury patients and stroke survivors.  

Evaluation of the performance and effectiveness of the device will be carried out in three levels. In simulation level, the behaviour of the developed software and hardware will be examined virtually and in real-time. Once the performance of the system is verified in simulations, ethical approval is obtained and medical experts have been contacted, the system will be tested on healthy subjects. Finally, with ethical approval and the system’s performance being confirmed in a simulation level and on healthy subjects, the system’s effectiveness will be examined with the help of volunteers that have experienced stroke or spinal cord injuries.  

Resources required: 
Augmented reality technologies such as the C-Mill which also offers body weight support
Project number: 
First Supervisor: 
University of Edinburgh
Second Supervisor(s): 
First supervisor university: 
University of Edinburgh
Essential skills and knowledge: 
Mechanical Design, Control Systems
Desirable skills and knowledge: 
Real-time Control Systems

A. J. Del-Alma, A. de los Reyes-Guzman, and J. C. Moreno, “Online Assessment of Human-Robot Interaction for Hybrid Control of Walking,” no. May 2014, 2012.

R. Kimura et al., “Development of a Rehabilitation Robot Combined with Functional Electrical Stimulation Controlled by Non-disabled Lower Extremity in Hemiplegic Gait,” Prog. Rehabil. Med., vol. 3, no. 0, p. n/a, 2018.

A. J. Del-Alma, A. D. Koutsou, J. C. Moreno, A. De-los-Reyes, Á. Gil-Agudo, and J. L. Pons, “Review of hybrid exoskeletons to restore gait following spinal cord injury,” vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 497–514, 2012.