ILC aid for stroke victims

Research into a technique that could help stroke patients regain movement has been given a boost by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


Research into a technique that could help stroke patients regain movement has been given a boost by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The study, undertaken by scientists at Southampton University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), aims to assess the feasibility of using Iterative Learning Control (ILC) patterns to help stroke patients relearn movements.

The technique uses electrodes attached to the skin to contract selective muscles. The patient’s movements are then measured and can be corrected by adjusting the intensity and timing of stimulation. ILC is an established technique in the automation robotics industry. However, this will be the first time that it is used to aid rehabilitation in a human. The aim is that through repetition, voluntary movement will be strengthened, reducing the need for artificial stimulation.

Building on successful trials of five stroke patients in 2008, the EPSRC’s £285,000 funding will extend work for two years and will help develop a control theory that will back up future clinical trials.

Dr Chris Freeman at the university’s ECS said: ‘The grant will help us get the underlying theory needed to increase the number of muscles we’re going to stimulate in the future and make the movements more functional.’

Ellie Zolfagharifard