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Wearable interfaces for hAnd function recoverY (WAY)
Start date: Oct 1, 2011, End date: May 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project addresses the scientific problem of recovery of hand function after amputation, or neurological disabilities like spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, and stroke. It introduces several conceptual novelties which explicitly take into account and overcome the limited band-width in actual Brain-Neural Communication Interfaces (BNCI). WAY demonstrators are able to restore a physiological bidirectional link between artificial aids and patients, and will be shown in clinical studies to improve the ability of users to perform activities of daily living (ADL) and thus to attain enhanced autonomy and quality of life. In other words, the project investigates new WAYs to link the brain with upper limb aids.This result is obtainable by employing already available sensorized hand assistive devices within the consortium--a dexterous prosthesis and an exoskeleton--and by developing non-invasive wearable interfaces designed for bidirectional data flow of sensory information and motor commands.The BNCI of WAY range in location, directionality, and working principles: efferent ones will implement biosignal processing exploiting machine learning for predicting user intentions (EEG, EOG, or EMG), while afferent ones will generate multi-modal stimulation patterns (vibro and electrotactile). The core of the system is the controller that dynamically processes sensor signals generated by the users and the device and drives efferent channels. The main novel feature is that the controller communicates with the user by means of temporally discrete signals that represent either commands or functional goal accomplishments and thereby mimics the high-level control in normal humans. The demonstrators will thus minimize the cognitive load of the users while providing necessary feedback for adequate control.WAY bridges several currently disjointed scientific fields and is therefore critically dependent on the collaboration of engineers, neuroscientists and clinicians.

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