The mission of NeuroEngineering Section (NES) is to develop methods and technologies to assist and promote independent living of patients affected by neuromotor disorders. To tackle this mission, we adopt two complementary approaches: both developing rehabilitation technologies able to reach in medium-term the patients, and developing technologies to investigate brain learning mechanisms.
NES has a major premise at Campus Leonardo via G. Colombo 40 and a second one, NearLab@Lecco, at the Lecco Polimi Campus with two operational facilities at clinical partners sites: Villa Beretta and Istituto Medea.
1) Rehabilitation engineering and robotics.
We aim at designing, validating and translating to clinics technologies for personalized rehabilitation and for promoting independent living. This includes the following activities :
- User-centered assistive devices, as personalized robotic exoskeletons, with special focus on upper limbs
- Active neuroprostheses, including subject volitional contribution with FES, when possible and personalized control strategies
- Immersive rehabilitation devices, including EMG-based biofeedback solutions
- All these technologies are brought to clinical trials so to promote evidence-based clinical studies in rehabilitation technologies and the design of protocols to quantitatively support the rating based on clinical scales.
2) Multiscale study of central nervous system plasticity.
We aim at integrating information from small neuronal networks in vitro, computational modeling of brain subcircuits, bioimages studies and biomechanical studies to better understand the physiological and the physiopathological mechanisms of learning. This encompas multiple activities:
- Computational Motor Control Models of brain subcircuits, with special emphasis on the cerebellum network, are used in simulation and embedded in robotic controllers interfacing with real environment so to unveil learning properties.
- fMRI and TMS studies are adopted to investigate brain functions associated to rehabilitation treatments, especially with FES.
- Innovative protocols (short and very long term microgravity, sensorial perturbations,etc.) for the study of sensori-motor integration and movement planning and control
- Hardware and software solutions for electrophysiological (MEA recordings and data compression) and photonic microtechnologies coupled with in vitro neuronal coltures for neurophysiology studies and pharmacological and toxicology tests