Ongoing projects


People involved: Simona Ferrante, Francesca Lunardini, Milad Malavolti

Funding source: Ministero della Salute

Funding period: 2018 – 2020

Fondazione Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Fondazione IRCCS San Raffaele, Politecnico di Milano



Patients who have suffered severe brain injuries can show a progressive recovery, transitioning through a range of clinical conditions. They may progress from coma to a vegetative state (VS) and/or a minimally conscious state (MCS). Among the clinical problems that could influence the recovery of consciousness in VS and MCS patients, three sleep pathologies seem to be frequently encountered: Apnea, Periodic Limb Movements and Bruxism. Although the role of sleep on cognition in these patients is still debated, it is well-known that healthy individuals experience cognitive impairment and emotional lability with even mild disruption of the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The STRIVE project is aimed at investigating the efficacy and the compliance of personalized interventions for sleep pathologies in patients with disorder of consciousness (DOC). The project develops and field-tests a novel ecosystem integrating wearable sensors, professional and caregiver evaluations, specifically tailored for the longitudinal assessment of the motor behavioral profile of DOC patients.


People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Claudia Casellato, Alberto Antonietti, Alice Geminiani

Funding source: MIUR

Funding period: 2017 – 2018



CerebNEST is aimed at developing and updating a bioinspired cerebellar Spiking Neural Network in the NEST platform, to study cerebellum-driven motor learning in neurorobotic control loops and understand the neural bases of cerebellar pathologies. CerebNEST is a Partnering Project of the Human Brain Project (EU Flagship within the FET H2020 program) and is developed in a collaboration with the Brain Simulation Platform (SP6) and the Neurorobotics Platform (SP10).


People involved: Simona Ferrante, Alessandra Pedrocchi, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Emilia Ambrosini, Francesca Lunardini

Funding source:  H2020-ICT-26-2016

Grant numberICT-26-2016b System abilities,
development and pilot installations – 732158

Funding period: 2017 – 2019

MoveCare develops and field tests an innovative multi-actor platform that supports the independent living of the elder at home by monitoring, assist and promoting activities to counteract decline and social exclusion. It comprises 3 hierarchical layers: 1) A service layer provides monitoring and intervention. It endows objects of everyday use with advanced processing capabilities and integrates them in a distributed pervasive monitoring system to derive degradation indexes linked to decline. 2) A context-aware Virtual Caregiver, embodied into a service robot, is the core layer. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to propose to the elder a personalized mix of physical/cognitive/social activities as exergames. It evaluates the elder status, detects risky conditions, sends alerts and assists in critical tasks, in therapy and diet adherence. 3) The users’ community strongly promotes socialization acting as a bridge towards the elders’ ecosystem: other elders, clinicians, caregivers and family. Gamification glues together monitoring, lifestyle, activities and assistance inside a motivating and rewarding experience. Off-the-shelf components are assembled in a robust and reliable way to get a low-cost multi-actor IP-domotic platform that can be massively deployed at elders home. The use of software/hardware standards assures interoperability and makes MoveCare adaptable to utmost novel components. Full configurability, personalization, adaptation to elder needs applies to all components to maximize elder compliance, even when computer illiterate. On-field testing starting early in the project assures an implementation iterative approach involving all actors. MoveCare identifies functional and technical metrics to characterize and evaluate the system by means of improvement in its abilities as described by the Multi-Annual Roadmap. The metrics lead to the definition of an evaluation framework transferrable to other fields.


People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Simona Ferrante, Emilia Ambrosini

Funding source:  H2020-ICT-23- 2014

Grant number: ICT-23-2014 – 644721

Funding period: 2015 – 2018



The aim of the RETRAINER proposal is to tune and validate advanced, robot-based technologies to facilitate recovery of arm and hand function in stroke survivors and to verify extensively the use of the system by end-users. RETRAINER allows the users to use their own arm and hand as much and as soon as possible after the trauma so to achieve the best outcomes in rehabilitation.
A continuous iterative process between the technology development and the testing feedback drives the whole project. RETRAINER implements a full technology transfer from the results of a previous FP7 project, MUNDUS, aimed at setting up a similar assistive device for severely disabled people in daily life activities.RETRAINER makes available two systems that could be either used in combination or as a stand-alone. RETRAINER S1 provides the end-user with a robot that does not completely take over the user’s tasks and substitute the functionality of the body, but specifically supports the user only whenever he/she really needs support. Residual functionality is trained and improved on rather than replaced by the robotic device. Arm movements are supported by the combined action of a passive exoskeleton for weight relief and Neuromuscular Electrical stimulation (NMES) delivered to several arm muscles in a controlled manner.RETRAINER S2 exploits a wearable NMES system with multiple arrays of electrodes for hand rehabilitation facilitating the grasping function.Both systems benefits from use of interactive objects, i.e. daily-life objects able to supply information about themselves to drive usage. Within RETRAINER the same principle and module is exploited to drive rehabilitation exercises and to monitor daily life.The systems will undergo a thorough randomized control clinical trial with end users to assess their efficacy in rehabilitation. Certification and qualification of the system will be pursued, given the adequate quality of experimental results.

Multi-center trial of Augmented Sensory Feedback in Children with Dyskinetic CP

People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Claudia Casellato, Emilia Ambrosini, Francesca Lunardini

Funding source:  NIH

Grant number:  1R01 HD081346-01

Funding period:  2015 – 2020

University of Southern California, Children Hospital Los Angeles, Politecnico di Milano, Carlo Besta Neurological Institute Foundation, Northeastern University, Columbia University



Successful learning requires awareness of errors both in performance and in muscle activity. Therefore if we can increase the awareness of muscle activity and direct attention to those muscles that are most responsible for movement errors, then we can improve learning in children with early sensory deficits.

We use biofeedback to create awareness of the activity of individual muscles. The EMG-based biofeedback device tested in this study has been designed to provide the subject with a vibro-tactile information proportional to the activation of a specific muscle.

This study aims at testing the effect of long-term augmented sensory feedback on real-world skill learning in children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy (CP) or primary dystonia. Our hypothesis is that, in children with CP, this intervention will permit acquisition of skills in the child’s natural environment that were not previously achievable through unaided practice.

Fall prevention and locomotion recovery in post-stroke patients: a multimodal training towards a more autonomous daily life

People involved: Simona Ferrante, Emilia Ambrosini, Elisabetta Peri

Funding source:  Ministero della Salute

Grant numberGR-2010-2312228

Institution: Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, Lissone

Funding period:  Dec 2012 – Dec 2016

The project aims at designing a novel multimodal intervention for stroke lower limb rehabilitation which involves two different types of exercise:

  • a cycling leg exercise augmented by functional electrical stimulation and a visual biofeedback to maximize the subject’s involvement
  • balance exercises using a sensorized balance board which provides a visual biofeedback to the subject

The rationale is that the delivery of such an intervention in the early phase after stroke might improve motor relearning and accelerate the recovery of walking ability. To test this hypothesis a randomized controlled study comparing the novel intervention to standard rehabilitation is ongoing.

A secondary aim of the project is to design a reliable and repeatable setup for the evaluation of the cortico-spinal excitability by means of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The test-retest reliability of a rapid acquisition of stimulus-response curves is investigated both in age-matched healthy human participants as well as stroke patients. This technique will bring the use of TMS to study plasticity clinically and guide rehabilitation a step closer.

ARED Kinematics: Biomechanical Quantification of Bone and Muscle Loading to Improve the Quality of Microgravity Countermeasure Prescriptions for Resistive Exercise

People involved: Giancarlo Ferrigno, Alessandra Pedrocchi, Claudia Casellato

Funding source:  Italian Space Agency

Grant number: BICE; 2013-065-R.0

Funding period:  2013 – 2018

European Space Agency (ESA),  Countermeasures Lab, Johnson Space Center NASA, Houston



Countermeasure experiments with astronauts onboard the International Space Station. Kinematic data (ELITE-S2) and estimation of internal bone and muscle forces developed during exercise in microgravity will allow exercise programs to be optimized based upon evidence, and will increase the understanding of how resistance exercise in weightlessness affects the body.

USEFUL: User-centred assistive SystEm for arm Functions in  neUromuscuLar subjects

People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Marta Gandolla

Funding source:  Fondazione Telethon

Funding period:  2016 – 2018

Politecnico di Milano (M&SS laboratory and Nearlab); CNR-ITIA; IRCCS E. MEDEA; Valduce Hospital “Villa Beretta”



Restore a lost function is a special experience for people affected by neuromuscular evolutive diseases, who face every day a functional deterioration. So far, technology for muscular dystrophic people has been mainly devoted to mobility for the evident impact on independence, and respiratory assistance for surveillance, while assistance of upper limb functions has been less explored. Few examples of commercial exoskeletons for gravity compensation exist but their clinical validation is missing. During the USEFUL project two commercial exoskeletons for gravity compensation (ARMON AYURA and JEACO WREX) will be tested for 2 weeks at home on 38 people affected by muscular dystrophy in a crossover design study. PUL (primary outcome), TAM, SUS scales will be used to assess whether the system is usable, acceptable and efficient. We expect that the results of the clinical study will provide important inputs to users and essential guidelines to health providers’ for the Health Technology Assessment.

BRIDGE: Beahavioural Reaching Interfaces during Daily antiGravity Activities through upper limb Exoskeleton

People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Marta Gandolla, Simona Ferrante

Funding source:  Fondazione Cariplo

Grant number: 2015-1860

Funding period: Feb 2016 – Feb 2018

Politecnico di Milano – Polo territoriale di Lecco (M&SS lab and NEARLAB); CNR-ITIA; UILDM; Consultants: UNIVERLECCO; IRCCS E. MEDEA; Valduce Hospital “Villa Beretta”



The BRIDGE project aims at expanding the functionalities of a pre-existing powered arm exoskeleton, providing it with additional features specifically aimed at supporting people suffering from neuromuscular evolutive diseases in performing (a subset of) Activities of Daily Living, enhancing their living standards by helping them accomplish everyday tasks and, possibly, autonomous activities. The user will be able to directly control the exoskeleton alternatively using manual, gaze or voice control. This multi-modal approach will allow each user to select the most suitable way depending on his/her residual capabilities. These new functionalities will be designed and developed in a continuous iterative process between users’ requirements and technological developments. The final improved prototype will be evaluated in real usability tests.

FoRST: Foundation for Thermal Scientific Research

People involved: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Marta Gandolla, Simona Ferrante

Funding source: Fondazione per la Ricerca Scientifica Termale

Funding period: Mar 2016 – May 2018

Politecnico di Milano – Polo territoriale di Lecco (M&SS lab and NEARLAB); Università di Padova (Medicina Fisica e Riabilitazione)



SPA therapy demonstrated to be beneficial in facilitating motor recovery and or enhancing well-being in middle age adults and elderly. The aim of the project is to couple adaptive biofeedback exercises with the beneficial effects of SPA therapy in order to enhance the effectiveness of the training. Reference application scenario and the needed rehabilitation exercises, including lower and upper limbs training, will be designed upon meeting with clinicians, trainee and operators of SPAs.

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