Special Issue "Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2021) | Viewed by 10119

Special Issue Editors

Dr. José M. Azorín
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Brain-Machine Interface Systems Lab, Institute of Research on Engineering of Elche, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, 03202 Elche, Spain
Interests: brain–machine interfaces; neuro-robotics; rehabilitation robotics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Mario Ortiz García
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Brain-Machine Interface Systems Lab, Institute of Research on Engineering of Elche, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, 03202 Elche, Spain
Interests: mathematical transforms applied to electrical signal processing; neural network applications for signal classification; brain–machine interfaces and neuro-robotics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Eduardo Iáñez Martínez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Brain-Machine Interface Systems Lab, Institute of Research on Engineering of Elche, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, 03202 Elche, Spain
Interests: brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) (non-invasive brain interfaces); multimodal human–robot interfaces (integrating brain, ocular and haptic information)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

In Western society, stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI) are two of the major motor disorders that cause damage in the human nervous system, leading to physical impairment. Generally, these conditions will disrupt sensory and motor pathways that could lead to permanent pathological gait, resulting in impaired independent ambulation. Walking incorrectly creates a stigma and makes patients more susceptible to injury, affecting quality of life. Ambulation after trauma has long been a research topic, but more progress is needed. In the past, wheelchairs, passive orthoses, and crutches were the only viable options to provide ambulation outside of rehabilitation clinics. Recently, different neurotechnologies have emerged as aids for over-ground, bipedal ambulation for individuals with motor limitations, such as lower-limb robotic exoskeletons, brain–computer interfaces, and neurostimulation strategies. 

This Special Issue will focus on applications of neurotechnologies in people with walking disabilities, showing recent developments and achievements, not only in clinical environments, but also at home or outdoors. 

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following areas: 

  • Lower-limb robotic exoskeletons and neuroprosthetics: applications, cases of study, human–machine interfaces, clinical results, low-cost developments, etc.
  • Brain–machine interfaces: invasive and non-invasive applications, interaction with exoskeletons and neuroprosthetics, clinical results, signal processing, etc.
  • Neural Stimulation: applications based on brain, spinal or peripheral stimulation, invasive and non-invasive stimulation, etc.
  • Electromyography: EMG techniques for the assessment of people with motor disabilities, applications in rehabilitation, etc.
  • Research papers and case reports presenting original studies that fill the above criteria, as well as review articles that relate to the mentioned topics are welcome in this Special Issue. 

Dr. Jose M. Azorin
Dr. Mario Ortiz García
Dr. Eduardo Iáñez Martínez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • pathological gait
  • neurotechnologies
  • lower-limb exoskeletons and neuroprosthetics
  • brain–machine interfaces
  • neural stimulation
  • neurorehabilitation and assistance
  • electromyography

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Article
Effects of Force Modulation on Large Muscles during Human Cycling
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(11), 1537; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111537 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 936
Abstract
Voluntary force modulation is defined as the ability to tune the application of force during motion. However, the mechanisms behind this modulation are not yet fully understood. In this study, we examine muscle activity under various resistance levels at a fixed cycling speed. [...] Read more.
Voluntary force modulation is defined as the ability to tune the application of force during motion. However, the mechanisms behind this modulation are not yet fully understood. In this study, we examine muscle activity under various resistance levels at a fixed cycling speed. The main goal of this research is to identify significant changes in muscle activation related to the real-time tuning of muscle force. This work revealed significant motor adaptations of the main muscles utilized in cycling as well as positive associations between the force level and the temporal and spatial inter-cycle stability in the distribution of sEMG activity. From these results, relevant biomarkers of motor adaptation could be extracted for application in clinical rehabilitation to increase the efficacy of physical therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities)
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Article
A Survey on Socially Assistive Robotics: Clinicians’ and Patients’ Perception of a Social Robot within Gait Rehabilitation Therapies
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060738 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2334
Abstract
A growing interest in Socially Assistive Robotics in Physical Rehabilitation is currently observed; some of the benefits highlight the capability of a social robot to support and assist rehabilitation procedures. This paper presents a perception study that aimed to evaluate clinicians’ and patients’ [...] Read more.
A growing interest in Socially Assistive Robotics in Physical Rehabilitation is currently observed; some of the benefits highlight the capability of a social robot to support and assist rehabilitation procedures. This paper presents a perception study that aimed to evaluate clinicians’ and patients’ perception of a social robot that will be integrated as part of Lokomat therapy. A total of 88 participants were surveyed, employing an online questionnaire based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). The participants belong to two health care institutions located in different countries (Colombia and Spain). The results showed an overall positive perception of the social robot (>60% of participants have a positive acceptance). Furthermore, a difference depending on the nature of the user (clinician vs. patient) was found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities)
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Article
The Actuation System of the Ankle Exoskeleton T-FLEX: First Use Experimental Validation in People with Stroke
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040412 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2670
Abstract
Robotic devices can provide physical assistance to people who have suffered neurological impairments such as stroke. Neurological disorders related to this condition induce abnormal gait patterns, which impede the independence to execute different Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). From the fundamental role of [...] Read more.
Robotic devices can provide physical assistance to people who have suffered neurological impairments such as stroke. Neurological disorders related to this condition induce abnormal gait patterns, which impede the independence to execute different Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). From the fundamental role of the ankle in walking, Powered Ankle-Foot Orthoses (PAFOs) have been developed to enhance the users’ gait patterns, and hence their quality of life. Ten patients who suffered a stroke used the actuation system of the T-FLEX exoskeleton triggered by an inertial sensor on the foot tip. The VICONmotion capture system recorded the users’ kinematics for unassisted and assisted gait modalities. Biomechanical analysis and usability assessment measured the performance of the system actuation for the participants in overground walking. The biomechanical assessment exhibited changes in the lower joints’ range of motion for 70% of the subjects. Moreover, the ankle kinematics showed a correlation with the variation of other movements analyzed. This variation had positive effects on 70% of the participants in at least one joint. The Gait Deviation Index (GDI) presented significant changes for 30% of the paretic limbs and 40% of the non-paretic, where the tendency was to decrease. The spatiotemporal parameters did not show significant variations between modalities, although users’ cadence had a decrease of 70% of the volunteers. Lastly, the satisfaction with the device was positive, the comfort being the most user-selected aspect. This article presents the assessment of the T-FLEX actuation system in people who suffered a stroke. Biomechanical results show improvement in the ankle kinematics and variations in the other joints. In general terms, GDI does not exhibit significant increases, and the Movement Analysis Profile (MAP) registers alterations for the assisted gait with the device. Future works should focus on assessing the full T-FLEX orthosis in a larger sample of patients, including a stage of training. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities)
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Article
Brain Plasticity Mechanisms Underlying Motor Control Reorganization: Pilot Longitudinal Study on Post-Stroke Subjects
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030329 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1803
Abstract
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has demonstrated to improve walking ability and to induce the carryover effect, long-lasting persisting improvement. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has been used to investigate effective connectivity differences and longitudinal changes in a group of chronic stroke patients that attended [...] Read more.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has demonstrated to improve walking ability and to induce the carryover effect, long-lasting persisting improvement. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has been used to investigate effective connectivity differences and longitudinal changes in a group of chronic stroke patients that attended a FES-based rehabilitation program for foot-drop correction, distinguishing between carryover effect responders and non-responders, and in comparison with a healthy control group. Bayesian hierarchical procedures were employed, involving nonlinear models at within-subject level—dynamic causal models—and linear models at between-subjects level. Selected regions of interest were primary sensorimotor cortices (M1, S1), supplementary motor area (SMA), and angular gyrus. Our results suggest the following: (i) The ability to correctly plan the movement and integrate proprioception information might be the features to update the motor control loop, towards the carryover effect, as indicated by the reduced sensitivity to proprioception input to S1 of FES non-responders; (ii) FES-related neural plasticity supports the active inference account for motor control, as indicated by the modulation of SMA and M1 connections to S1 area; (iii) SMA has a dual role of higher order motor processing unit responsible for complex movements, and a superintendence role in suppressing standard motor plans as external conditions changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities)
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Systematic Review
Review of tDCS Configurations for Stimulation of the Lower-Limb Area of Motor Cortex and Cerebellum
Brain Sci. 2022, 12(2), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12020248 - 11 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1173
Abstract
This article presents an exhaustive analysis of the works present in the literature pertaining to transcranial direct current stimulation(tDCS) applications. The aim of this work is to analyze the specific characteristics of lower-limb stimulation, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of these works and [...] Read more.
This article presents an exhaustive analysis of the works present in the literature pertaining to transcranial direct current stimulation(tDCS) applications. The aim of this work is to analyze the specific characteristics of lower-limb stimulation, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of these works and framing them with the current knowledge of tDCS. The ultimate goal of this work is to propose areas of improvement to create more effective stimulation therapies with less variability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Neurotechnologies in People with Walking Disabilities)
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