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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MoreGrasp (Restoration of upper limb function in individuals with high spinal cord injury by multimodal neuroprostheses for interaction in daily activities)

MoreGrasp Report Summary

Project ID: 643955
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MoreGrasp (Restoration of upper limb function in individuals with high spinal cord injury by multimodal neuroprostheses for interaction in daily activities)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In Europe, there are 11,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) per year with a total population of 330,000. More than half of the individuals with SCI are tetraplegic, meaning that they not only suffer from paralysis of the lower but also of the upper extremities. The bilateral loss of hand function with its associated dependency on caregivers result in a tremendous decrease of quality of life and represent a major barrier for inclusion in professional and social life. Besides the burden for each individual, the consequences of a high SCI also have a substantial impact on the healthcare system. A person with a lesion of the lower cervical spinal cord at the age of 25 (50 years) generates estimated lifetime costs of approximately 2.5 Million Euro (1.5 Million Euro). MoreGrasp is focusing on the restoration of grasping, which is ranked as most important by individuals with cervical SCI and has highest priority in their rehabilitation.

The aim of the MoreGrasp project is to develop a non-invasive, multi-adaptive, multimodal user interface including a brain-computer interface (BCI) for intuitive control of a semi-autonomous motor and sensory grasp neuroprosthesis supporting individuals with high spinal cord injury in everyday activities.

The heterogeneity of end users with SCI, in terms of their neurological, functional and personal status, results in a high demand for personalization of a neuroprosthesis. This applies both to actuating components as well as to the control interface. MoreGrasp will incorporate the concept of personalization, which is essential to define a minimal set of sensors and actuators for the individual user, thereby enhancing the usability and the suitability of a system for transfer to market.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The MoreGrasp consortium worked on different areas to achieve the ambitious aims of the project: Novel hardware components were developed to form the basis for the MoreGrasp system. These include a new wireless EEG-recording system for use with gel-less electrodes and a new functional electrical stimulation (FES)-based multi-pad electrode together with a high-voltage channel multiplexer. This electrode array is used for systematic screening as part of the MoreGrasp evaluation toolkit and as part of the final sensorized grasp neuroprosthesis. The A high-end laptop is used as the core data acquisition, processing and control unit while a tablet computer serves as a single communication and status interface to end users and operators. These novel hardware developments are supported by various software developments which include drivers and protocols for operation of several sensors and output devices. A general software framework has been introduced for implementation of shared control principles.
Different studies with able-bodied subjects and single case studies with selected end users with SCI were performed as first indicators towards a proof-of-concept of the novel hard- and software MoreGrasp components. Several BCI studies have been carried out to outline new ways of potentially controlling the neuroprosthesis more intuitively than in the past. A cliniccal evaluation procedure for the individual setup of the FES components has been defined to support clinicians in the setup of the neuroprosthesis. A procedure for BCI and FES training has been developed and is currently integrated into the software platform.
As part of the project website a registration platform was implemented so that potential end users can register and show their interest to be part of the evaluation for the MoreGrasp system and finally to become a user of the neuroprosthesis. Additionally, a web-based tool, called matchmaking platform, was implemented as part of the MoreGrasp evaluation toolkit to help decision makers within the consortium to identify potential end users.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Even in its current stage after 18 months the MoreGrasp project has developed and integrated several parts of complex technology that was not existing before: The BCI-controlled, sensorized multi-pas electrode grasp neuroprosthesis together with the shared control principle allowing for semi-autonomous, more intuitive control by end users form the basis to make a difference in the rehabilitation of severely handicapped persons. It can be expected that the acceptance of this technology in end users with SCI is likely to be high and may improve their quality of life and inclusion in society.
The results achieved so far have been communicated to the scientific community as well as the general public and potential end users with SCI. Several papers have been published, and results were presented in neuroscientific and clinical conferences, key note lectures and non-scientific talks. With the website, the MoreGrasp flyer and the facebook and twitter activities MoreGrasp has been introduced to a broad spectrum of interested people.
The MoreGrasp registration platform provides potential end users with SCI the possibility to receive first-hand and information about the aims and progress of the MoreGrasp project. The opportunity to receive an individual consulation by MoreGrasp experts goes far beyond traditional research projects. By registering individuals with SCI have the change to become a participant of the later proof-of-concept study. The offer of this opportunity is in itself a first step to strengthen the self-esteem of end users with severe motor impairments and to overcome their and their relatives’ feeling of helplessness.

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