CAMIN research interests are centered on the design and development of realistic neuroprosthetic solutions in the context of sensory-motor deficiencies.
- exploration and understanding of movement origin and control
- movement assistance and/or restoration
Electrical stimulation (ES) is used to activate muscle contractions by recruiting muscle fibers, just as the action potentials initiated in motoneurons would normally do. When a nerve is stimulated, both afferent (sensitive) and efferent (motor) pathways are excited. ES can be applied externally using surface electrodes positioned on the skin over the nerves/muscles intended to be activated or by implantation with electrodes positioned at the contact with the nerves/muscles or neural structures (brain and spinal cord).
ES is the only way to restore movement in many situations. Yet although this technique has been known for decades, substantial challenges remain, including: (i) detecting and reducing the increased early fatigue induced by artificial recruitment, (ii) finding solutions to nonselective stimulation, which may elicit undesired effects, and (iii) allowing for complex amplitude and time modulations of ES in order to produce complex system responses (synergies, coordinated movements, meaningful sensory feedback, high-level autonomic function control).
Functional ES (FES) rehabilitation mainly involves external FES, with the objective being to increase neurological recuperation by activating muscle contractions and stimulating both efferent and afferent pathways. Our work in this area naturally led us to take an increasing interest in brain organization and plasticity, as well as central nervous system (brain, spinal cord) responses to ES.
When the objective of FES is a permanent assistive aid, invasive solutions can be deployed. We have piloted several animal studies to investigate neurophysiological responses to ES and validate models. We also applied some of our technological developments in the context of human per-operative surgery, including motor and sensory ES.