Sam Fok, Raphael Schwartz, Mark Wronkiewicz, Charles Holmes, Jessica Zhang, Nathan Brodell, Thane Somers. Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) cause long-term, unilateral loss of motor control due to brain damage on the opposing (contralateral) side of the body. Conventional neurological therapies have been found ineffective in rehabilitating upper-limb function after stroke. Brain computer interfaces (BCIs), devices that tap directly into brain signals, show promise in providing rehabilitation but remain in research. Also, BCIs cannot work if the target signals have been eliminated due to injury. Therefore we present a novel BCI, the IpsiHand, which combines advances in neurophysiology, electronics, and rehabilitation. Recent studies show that during hand movement, the cortical hemisphere on the same (ipsilateral) side of the body as the hand also activates. IpsiHand uses electroencephalography (EEG) to record these signals and control a powered hand orthosis. The undamaged hemisphere can then control both hands, and through neural plasticity IpsiHand will strengthen ipsilateral neural pathways to enhance ipsilateral motor control.