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NeuRestore: Brain computer interface driven rehabilitation of upper limb weakness of stroke survivors

The NeuRestore project seeks to aid patients that have suffered a stroke, or other ailment that has resulted in loss of mobility, by improving their hand and arm movement recovery without the constant need for specialist physiotherapists.

Over 13.7 million strokes occur each year, according to the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE), and statistics have also shown that up to 80% of stroke survivors face upper limb impairment.  However, some patients can overcome this condition around six months after the incident, even achieving full motor recovery, through neuro-rehabilitation, and the brain’s ability to adapt to new, incoming information and undertake a form of self-healing called neuroplasticity.

Yet, existing neuro-rehabilitation techniques face a variety of limitations.  In order to address this and further support the chances of patient recovery, NeuRestore aims to become a cost-effective, non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI), specifically tailored for motor rehabilitation of upper limb weakness in stroke survivors without the need for continuous intervention by specialist physiotherapists.

NeuRestore uses relatively inexpensive EEG (electroencephalogram) devices to monitor and record the brain's electrical patterns while simultaneously receiving trigger feedback or an action output.  To achieve a comprehensive picture of cerebral activity, motor imagery (imagining a movement) is employed.  With the repetition of mental images of movements, an algorithmic model is calibrated to identify and classify when the patient shows true intention of movement.  The trained model is then paired with a robotic hand exoskeleton so that action outputs are generated from classifying the brain signals, and the movement of the robotic fingers is synchronised with them.  The process becomes even more immersive when the patient enters a virtual 3D environment where they can see their hand move, providing a more realistic, visual output of their imagined movement.  This virtual reality (VR) dimension can greatly help with building a stronger link between brain signals and subsequent real-life physical movements.

On project completion, NeuRestore will deliver a brand new support system for stroke patients, that is both affordable and proven effective at making a real difference to people’s recovery.  Watch a demonstration of NeuRestore (January 2022) in action.

Partners: Castalia Innovation Limited, Generic Robotics Limited and the Essex Innovation Centre.

NeuRestore secured funding from Innovate UK.

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