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ICORR'07 - 10th international conference on rehabilitation robotics

Program - Special Sessions

Rehabilitation of Hand Function


Etienne Burdet and Roger Gassert
Department of Bioengineering
Imperial College London, UK
{e.burdet, r.gassert}[at]

Ludovic Dovat and Olivier Lambercy
Department of Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore
{ludovic.dovat, olivier.lambercy}[at]

Ted Milner
School of Kinesiology
Simon Fraser University, Canada

Objectives and Topics

Robot-assisted rehabilitation may redefine current clinical strategies for treatments of stroke and other neuromuscular impairments due to disease or injury. Robotic devices can systematically sense and control the physical interaction. Further, game-like virtual reality exercises may motivate people to train at home without clinical supervision, which may improve rehabilitation and decrease costs. While classical rehabilitation is limited by subjective observation of therapists and patients, robotic devices can precisely quantify the progress achieved by stroke patients.

Several groups have focused on the robot-assisted rehabilitation of arm movements. We are now at the transition to the rehabilitation of the fine motor control of hand and finger movements, which are necessary for many tasks of daily living. Developing robots for the hand requires addressing major issues in mechanical design, actuators and sensors, which must be adaptable to the limb. Exercises must promote recovery of activities of daily living, and be adapted to the patient’s abilities. Safety is also critical for these robots interacting with humans, and interactive control strategies must be developed.

In order to meet these challenges, it will be profitable for groups working on these topics to meet and exchange experiences at ICORR2007. Papers are solicited on all aspects of robotics, control and therapy related to the hand function. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any additional information.

Touch sensing for neurocontrolled prosthetic hands


Nitish Thakor
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Usa

Maria Chiara Carrozza and Lucia Beccai
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Pisa, Italy
{Chiara, Lucia}[at]

Richard F. ff. Weir
VA Chicago Health Care System
Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine Biomedical Engineering Northwestern University Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center & Prosthetic Research Laboratory

Objectives and Topics

The development of artificial tactile systems that can be embedded in soft compliant skin and or in internal mechanism of neurocontrolled prosthetic hand makes it possible to endow prosthetic hands with advanced sensory functionalities.

The ultimate goal of research on neurocontrolled prosthetic hands is to achieve the full functional substitution of human hand and provide amputees with dexterity, proporioception and perception of the environment.

In order to obtain appropriate and reliable artificial tactile sensors, it is fundamental to develop:
  1. micro and nano systems able to emulate the functions of natural mechanoreceptors of the human skin
  2. algorithms and related hardware to provide appropriate tactile event encoding
  3. algorithms and related hardware able to handle data acquired by sensors, to solve problems related to wiring, collecting data, and calibrating online sensory systems
  4. interfaces to stimulate skin or PNS of the subject according to events detected in order to ultimately provide sensory feedback and perception
  5. shared control strategies that make it possible to integrate voluntary control of the user according to sensory feedback and the embedded controller of the hand
All the challenges related to the artificial touch sensing are open to the many groups that focus their research in this field. They are invited to meet at ICORR2007 to discuss and exchange experiences.

Papers are solicited on all aspects of tactile sensing, sensor processing, bio-inspired materials for tactile sensing and new technologies for application in robotic and prosthetic field.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any additional information .

Neural interfaces for the control of robotic artefacts


Silvestro Micera
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Pisa, Italy

Andrew Schwartz
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, USA

Objectives and Topics

In the recent past, several research groups have been working on the development of robotic systems for biomedical applications (e.g., in rehabilitation). In many cases, these devices are not thought to behave autonomously, but they have to work together with the final users (directly connected to their own bodies or teleoperated by them). Therefore, it is crucial to create a real partnership between the human subject and the robot in order to make the latter more friendly and effectively usable. The bottleneck in this case is the (reduced) number of (functional) connections currently possible between the user and the robotic device. For example, it is not possible to replace the extremely sophisticated bidirectional connections existing between the nervous system and the hand. This precludes the possibility of restoring the natural motor control strategies and of delivering sensory feedback during manipulation.

In order to address this crucial problem, the use of neural interfaces with the central and peripheral nervous systems has been investigated by several research groups. Neural interfaces are the key enabling technologies for all these applications.

The aim of the Special Session on Neural Interfaces is to provide more information about exiting research activities carried out by several groups around the world working in order to develop and use effective neural interfaces to control robotic systems. In particular, all the different issues (i.e., microtechnology and microelectronics, biomaterials, neural signal processing, etc.) will be analyzed.

Robotic wheelchairs


Etienne Burdet
Department of Bioengineering
Imperial College London, UK

Teo Chee Leong, Brice Rebsamen and Zeng Qiang
Department of Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore
{clteo,brice, zengqiang}[at]

Objectives and Topics

Recent years have seen many advances in sensing, localization and navigation for mobile robots. Yet the applications of these techniques to mobility devices such as wheelchairs are still limited. This apparent paradox is mainly due to the difficulties in designing a system that can transport a person safely, and according to his or her wishes. Various approaches have been proposed, ranging from a collaborative system in which the human and machine collaborate closely, to fully autonomous systems that require minimal human intervention.

To meet the challenges of developing truly useful robotic wheelchairs, this session will bring together groups working on various approaches, to exchange ideas and experiences. Papers are solicited on all aspects of robotic wheelchairs, such as design, control, human-machine interaction and psychophysical testing.

Robot Aided Identification of Neuromuscular Properties


Erwin de Vlugt
Neuromuscular Control Laboratory
Dept. of Biomechanical Engineering
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Tel. (+31)-(0)15-2785247

Mehdi M. Mirbagheri
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Northwestern University
Sensory Motor Performance Program
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Tutorial Lecture

Eric Perreault
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Northwestern University
Sensory Motor Performance Program
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Invited Lecture

Robert E. Kearney
Neuromuscular Control Lab
Biomedical Engineering
McGill University, Montréal

Hans Arendzen
Motion Control Laboratory
Rehabilitation Medicine
Leiden University Medical Center
Leiden, The Netherlands

Objectives and Topics

The purpose of this session is to give an overview of current studies that use robotic manipulators for the objective quantification of neuromuscular properties of the human movement apparatus. Criteria for a successful transition from fundamental to clinical applications will be addressed.

Actively powered manipulators are very well suited to quantify the mechanical properties of human limbs. By means of small perturbations during posture, or goal directed movements, the apparent stiffness, viscosity and inertia at endpoint level (hand, foot) have been identified accurately. Furthermore, these endpoint dynamics have been separated into contributions from intrinsic muscular visco-elasticity and from proprioceptive feedback from the muscle spindles. Different types of virtual environments can be created to evaluate the modulation and adaptability of these neuromuscular properties. Robot aided identification techniques continuously develop and by the inclusion of additional measurements, like EMG, EEG and microneurography, the neuromuscular system is expected to be identified in even more detail. Such a detailed and objective measures during in-vivo motion conditions are highly informative to the clinical field. Movement abnormalities can be related to underlying disordered mechanisms which is important for the development of patient specific rehabilitation programs including precise drug treatment (e.g. spasmolitica) or surgical interventions. Detailed measurements can be performed during posture tasks. Future developments will be directed to track muscular and neural properties during complex motions requiring new time-variant identification techniques.

The scope of this session, in its broadest sense, reaches to those research areas aiming to understand the physiology of human movement control. These areas mainly comprise medical experts, physiologists, engineers and the robotic industry.

Research topics: time and frequency domain identification, time (in)variant identification, time-frequency analysis, (non)linear analysis, model parameterization, robot generated perturbations (force, position), subject-robot interaction.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any additional information about this session.

Human-robot interfaces


Cecilia Laschi
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
ARTS (Advanced Robotics Technology & Systems) Lab
Polo Sant'Anna Valdera
viale Rinaldo Piaggio, 34
56025 Pontedera (Pisa), Italy
Tel: +39-050-883-486
Mobile: +39-348-0718832
Fax: +39-050-883-497
Email: Cecilia[at]

Objective and Topics

Robotics Technology is becoming more and more pervasive in human environments. Robots are getting closer to human life in a variety of ways and shapes: not only as humanoids, but also as task-specific robotic tools, as smart robot appliances, and even as bionic robotic parts to be connected to the human body and brain. The application of robots in rehabilitation and in personal assistance has been being pursued for decades, since the first advances of robotics technologies.Robots can provide assistance in the activities of daily living, can provide motor capabilities to enhance those of the user, and can help increase personal autonomy. One of the critical problems in assistive robotics is the study and development of easy, intuitive, and effective ways of interaction and interfacing between the user and the robotic devices.

Many research groups worldwide are exploring new ways for accessing technological devices, taking into account the ergonomics of our body and the mechanisms of our brain, to adapt the interfaces to the person and to reduce the physical and mental effort required to use the interface. A number of achievements have been reached, by following different approaches. Neural interfaces directly connecting a device to the human nervous system, either at the central (brain) or the peripheral level, are probably the best suited to obtain a natural control and perception of the robot controlled. Nevertheless, humans naturally employ multimodal information channels for communication and produce a variety of signals accompanying a motor intention, that can be exploited in a natural way to control an assistive device.

This Special Session intends to gather papers presenting the latest results in the exploration of new ways of controlling assistive robots, along different approaches, i.e. from brain-robot interfaces to multimodal interfaces, to natural interfaces based on anticipatory movements.

Intended audience

  • Researchers sharing the objective of developing interfaces for an easy, intuitive, and effective access to robotic devices, including bionic systems.
  • Students in the field of biomedical engineering and rehabilitation technologies, interested in an overview of the state-of-the-art human-robot interfaces.
  • End user of interfaces for assistive robotics.

Human Motion Analysis and Neurorehabilitation


Thompson Sarkodie-Gyan
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Texas at El Paso, USA

Jules P.A. Dewald
The Neuroimaging and Motor Control Laboratory
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA

Objectives and Topics

Stroke, traumatic brain, and spinal cord injuries are the major causes of disability and handicap in the industrialized world. Growing life expectancy and more effective intensive care medicine result in a steadily growing prevalence of handicapped people in our society. To cope with this challenge, neurological rehabilitation has evolved as a new multidisciplinary field over the last two decades. In the early days, clinicians and researchers primarily thought in terms of the compensation of the impairments. However, the emerging knowledge about neuroplasticity of the human brain has opened a new window of opportunities. The restoration of motor, communicative, and cognitive impairments seemed feasible. It soon became clear that a task-specific repetitive training approach was most promising, that means, one needs to practice intensively what one wants to relearn. In addition, the determination of what tasks are most effective requires further quantification of impairments and understanding of underlying mechanisms. This is expected to lead to the creation of targeted neurorehabilitation instruments with a high capability for the acquisition, processing, and effectuation of information from the physical universe (human pathophysiology).

This session seeks to address:

  • Analytical and simulation tools for neurological impairments (disorders), and the corresponding information technology (measurement and instrumentation), and control methods for effectuation that will permit the implementation of targeted scientifically underpinned interventions. The tools addressed include: kinematic analysis; video analysis; kinetic analysis; dynamic electromyographic analysis; statistical analysis; modeling and simulation; computational intelligence; bio-cognition systems; virtual reality; step-training incorporating sensory feedback, and providing feedback about kinematics and torques.
  • The application of mechatronics, the integration of sensors, information processing, actuators, control systems and virtual reality into the successful realization of these concepts in neurorehabilitation.
2006 ICORR2007. All rights reserved