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Symbiotic man-machine interactions in wearable exoskeletons to enhance mobility for paraplegics (Symbitron)
Start date: Oct 1, 2013, End date: Sep 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

SYMBITRON targets a major technological leap for symbiotic man-machine interactions. In particular, the project results will markedly improve the lives of (partially) paralyzed persons through the development of a superior wearable exoskeleton. Such systems are designed to offer Spinal Cord Injured (SCI) patients the ability to walk and overcome obstacles in their daily life. To date, wearable exoskeletons still fall short of achieving this ambitious goal, and the will to bridge the gap forms the drive behind this project. The consortium has been assembled based on the partners' key scientific and clinical competences and long-standing experience in the field of man-machine interaction, as well as their excellent infrastructure and access to a large pool of SCI patients. The central approach is unique within the research field, owing to its patientcentred design, which results in a fully customized solution that complements the unique remaining capacities of each individual patient. We will also be the first to replicate physiological neuromuscular functionality in an exoskeleton, while at the same time seamlessly integrating residual human functionality (muscle characteristics, reflexes etc). This concept will restore the bi-directional interaction between paralyzed body parts and the rest of the body. Based on this fundamental concept, the main objectives in SYMBITRON are (i) to develop a safe, bioinspired, personalised wearable exoskeleton that can flexibly complement any remaining walking function in SCI patients, allowing them to walk without additional assistance, (ii) to develop a training environment and training protocols for SCI patients and their clinicians, and (iii) to provide clinical proof of concept for safety and functionality of the system. The four-year project encompasses 7 work packages, and it is shaped to maximise impact on patients' quality of life, on societal spending, and on general understanding of symbiotic man-machine interaction.
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