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Development of a virtual environment for the study of upper limb movement illusions in neuroprosthetic applications

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Development of a virtual environment for the study of upper limb movement illusions in neuroprosthetic applications.

Rel. Danilo Demarchi, Silvestro Micera. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Ingegneria Biomedica, 2020

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In order to provide amputees with prosthetic devices that functionally resemble the lost natural limb, researchers have increasingly focused attention on restoring sensory feedback from the prosthetic device to the user. Lately, kinesthetic percepts have been considered along with the largely explored sense of touch and muscle vibration is considered a viable solution to provide homologous and somatotopic kinesthetic feedback non-invasively. In a recent study, the group led by Prof. Micera demonstrated the possibility of eliciting several illusory movements of the hand by vibratory stimulation of the forearm of healthy subjects and the stump of transradial amputees. Elicitability of power grasping and hand opening percepts opened the possibility of providing kinesthetic feedback in closed-loop to one amputee controlling a robotic hand. However, the variety of reported percepts outlined the need for a flexible environment for testing as well as training. To this aim, the Translational Neural Engineering Lab (EPFL) bidirectional hand system has been integrated with a virtual environment for the bidirectional control of a virtual hand with 22 degrees of freedom, which potentially allows to study any elicited percept. A correct integration between the developed stimulation system and virtual reality has been obtained through modifications and further development of the software, so as to guarantee the specificity of the subject with respect to elicitable illusions. Therefore, a software capable of interfacing with the central system previously developed and running on Raspberry has been developed in C++ exploiting the MuJoCo HAPTIX environment. The software allows simple control of the virtual hand, depending on the user intended movement as well as the possibility of performing a tracking experiment. The latter takes inspiration from a previously proposed paradigm and is aimed at allowing more structured assessment of kinesthetic feedback impact. Pilot tests suggested proper integration of the developed virtual interface with the bidirectional hand system. This opens up the way for further investigations on non-invasive kinesthetic feedback, exploting muscle vibration.

Relators: Danilo Demarchi, Silvestro Micera
Academic year: 2019/20
Publication type: Electronic
Number of Pages: 76
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Ingegneria Biomedica
Classe di laurea: New organization > Master science > LM-21 - BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING
Ente in cotutela: Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (SVIZZERA)
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/14972
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