Body machine interfaces for neuromotor rehabilitation: a case study

Camilla Pierella, Farnaz Abdollahi, Ali Farshchiansadegh, Jessica Pedersen, David Chen, Ferdinando A. Mussa-Ivaldi, Maura Casadio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-level spinal cord injury (SCI) survivors face every day two related problems: recovering motor skills and regaining functional independence. Body machine interfaces (BoMIs) empower people with sever motor disabilities with the ability to control an external device, but they also offer the opportunity to focus concurrently on achieving rehabilitative goals. In this study we developed a portable, and low-cost BoMI that addresses both problems. The BoMI remaps the user's residual upper body mobility to the two coordinates of a cursor on a computer monitor. By controlling the cursor, the user can perform functional tasks, such as entering text and playing games. This framework also allows the mapping between the body and the cursor space to be modified, gradually challenging the user to exercise more impaired movements. With this approach, we were able to change the behavior of our SCI subject, who initially used almost exclusively his less impaired degrees of freedom - on the left side - for controlling the BoMI. At the end of the few practice sessions he had restored symmetry between left and right side of the body, with an increase of mobility and strength of all the degrees of freedom involved in the control of the interface. This is the first proof of concept that our BoMI can be used to control assistive devices and reach specific rehabilitative goals simultaneously.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics


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