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Development of kinematic and muscle patterns in preterm infants

Project description

Preterm babies are helping us to better understand early motor development

A lamb is born ready to walk within minutes. A human infant, on the other hand, takes about a month to even raise its head. It is not until about eight months before some are crawling. Studying early development of motor control is difficult if not impossible in full-term babies since most neonates are at home within a few days of their birth. The INFANTPATTERNS project is studying full-body movements in preterm infants to overcome this practical challenge. Combining neonatal and robotics expertise, the project will measure forces and movements with dedicated systems for biomechanics including recording of electrical signals in muscles. Outcomes will fill an important gap in our understanding of early sensorimotor development.


The first weeks and months after birth are critical for early sensorimotor development, with brain injury at this time often resulting in the later development of long-term neurodisabilities such as cerebral palsy. Despite this, the evolution of control patterns in this phase of life has never been systematically studied, due to the technical difficulties associated with accurately measuring infant movements and motor commands. This project will thus:
(i) measure for the first time the full body movements of preterm infants (using dedicated systems to accurately measure the force applied by the infants and their movement as well as high-density EMG);
(ii) identify the infants' movement patterns and their evolution during this critical phase after birth.
This ambitious project is feasible due to the extended expertise in human robotics of the supervisor at Imperial College London and the secondment with a strategic partner at the neonatal medicine department at Kings’ College London. This Marie Curie fellowship will give me a unique opportunity to create an innovative quantitative assessment and understanding of the developing motor function in infants, which has high potential for significant clinical and scientific impacts.


Net EU contribution
€ 191 852,16

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Södra Sverige Västsverige Västra Götalands län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 191 852,16