May 12th - Human Motor Control


How Robotics help to understand Human Motor Control



Antonio Suppa, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze umane



Using robotic platforms for investigating postural instability in Parkinson’s disease

Eduardo Palermo, Dipartimento di Ingegneria meccanica e aerospaziale


Measuring instability in human gait through robotic models

Ilaria Mileti, Dipartimento di Ingegneria meccanica e aerospaziale


Parkinson’s disease (PD) leads to a loss of dopaminergic cells and functional changes in the basal ganglia. PD patients exhibit slower movements, short and shuffling steps, postural instability and a tendency to fall.
However, the onset of postural instability in PD as a function of the disease stage is still not fully clear. Observational studies involving traditional techniques led to conflicting results and their interpretation is controversial. Taking inspiration from robotics in biomechanics studies might help in shedding light on balance impairment in PD. In a recent study, we have involved a robotic platform to provide rotation around the vertical axis in PD patients and healthy controls, to reproduce a typical falling situation of PD i.e. turning into narrow spaces. The platform was controlled to mimic and amplify the balance challenge, while kinematic measurements of body segments were acquired through inertial measurement units (IMU). Interestingly, data analysis highlighted axial postural alteration in patients traditionally considered in a disease stage not involving balance impairment. Concerning gait, evaluating instability could dramatically help in evaluating the risk of falling. However, a walking legged system is intrinsically unstable, and many indices of static stability historically introduced provide controversial results when applied to human gait. We attempted at using algorithms developed for studying the dynamic stability of legged robots to process kinematic data of walking humans, obtaining interesting preliminary results, promising a more consistent solution for evaluating instability during gait. 


mercoledì 12 maggio 2021, ore 15.00 - 17.00

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