Cognitive Factors for Rehabilitation and Movement Training

Neuromuscular disorders such as stroke, spinal cord injury, or amputation can severely impair one's ability to perform grasp activities of daily living. Individuals may undergo rehabilitate movement coordination with physical therapy to relearn abilities such as skillful hand grasp or newly utilize a hand prosthesis. Our objective is to investigate the potential role of cognitive factors (such as sense of agency, attention and motivation) to optimize upper-extrememity rehabilitation. We hypothesize that when people have a greater sense of agency, the perception they truly initiate and control their hand movements, they will significantly improve grasp function rehabilitation. We are developing a methodology to systematically leverage a subject’s cognitive factors to better control a computerized interface to perform reach and grasp. This work will serve as a more efficient platform to rehabilitate reach and grasp function following stroke or developing better control systems for either electromechanical hands or neuroprostheses.

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Multi-Sensory Feedback for Myoelectric Control

We are investigating novel multi-sensory feedback approaches to improve muscle control for better independent function following neurotrauma or better control of a myoelectric assistive device. Multi-sensory feedback, in the form of visual and vibrotactile cues, are provided in real-time during rehabilitation. Visual cues aim to guide the subject towards a target movement trajectory or muscle activation pattern for optimizing real-time task performance and long-term retention. Haptic feedback can explicitly guide the subject towards the target through vibration cues or can be provided to alter neurophysiological signals and user proprioception for a cognitive-based approach to improved muscle control.

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Previous research has explored visual-based learning aimed at accelerating movement rehabilitation for the two-legged squat exercise. Providing real-time feedback about spatial positioning can effectively train the participant to repeat the movement during short-term retention tests. Our objective was to investigate different forms of visual feedback with varying levels of complexity, continuity, and visual modes of representation to determine the optimal features for real-time performance and short-term retention.