35374 - Rehabilitation Bioengineering M

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

To give the student a framework on disability issues, aids and techniques used for the functional evaluation with particular reference to neurorehabilitation and neuroprostheses in the control of posture and movement, prosthetics and orthotics for upper and lower limbs, and remote monitoring, home automation applications and virtual reality.

Course contents

1. Introduction to the course

  • Historical Background
  • The technologies for the rehabilitation and their impact on health and society: the disabled and the elderly
  • Regional, national and European research projects: the case of the regional project StartER

2. Anatomical and physiological bases  

  • Anatomy and physiology of the musculoskeletal system
  • Organization of the central and peripheral nervous system
  • Functions of the central nervous system most often affected by traumatic events /vascular or neurodegenerative diseases 

3. The biomechanics

  • The biomechanics: definition, objectives, methodologies
  • Biomechanics of human movement: general purpose, history
  • Statics, kinematics and dynamics of rigid bodies
  • Kinematics and dynamics of human movement
  • The laboratory motion analysis: stereo-photogrammetry, dinamometry, electromyography
  • Clinical Applications    

4. The control of posture and movement    

  • Postural control
  • The balance disorders and their clinical evaluation
  • The assessment of postural control by static and dynamic posturography
  • Mathematical models of postural control
  • The posturographic signal: parameters derived from the trajectory of the center of pressure
  • Clinical applications of quantitative posturography  
  • Case study: functional assessment of Parkinsonian patients 

5. Elements of functional assessment    

  • Definition of function  
  • The functional assessment scales
  • Instrumental techniques for the functional evaluation
  • Extraction of information from data: the use of models and classification techniques  
  • Assessment of cognitive function
  • Application examples

6. Networks of wearable sensors and actuators    

  • Inertial sensors: accelerometers, gyroscopes
  • Magnetometers
  • Actuators
  • MEMS technology
  • Overview of wearable EMG sensors
  • Sensor fusion techniques
  • Kinematic and dynamic analysis of posture and movement using uniaxial accelerometers
  • Estimation of anthropometric parameters using accelerometry and dynamometry
  • Wireless transmission protocols
  • Networks of sensors and actuators
  • Applications: classification of motor tasks, fall alarms.
  • The European project FARSEEING

7. Rehabilitation techniques based on biofeedback and virtual reality

  • Postural Biofeedback: audio and video Biofeedback
  • Basic operation of a system based on Virtual Reality
  • The European projects SENSACTION-AAL, SMILING and CAMMI
  • Application cases

8. Functional Electrical Stimulation    

  • The myoelectric signal: neurophysiological basis, acquisition and processing
  • Central and peripheral lesions and consequent motor deficits
  • Spontaneous evolution of the motor deficit in stroke or spinal cord injury (stroke)
  • Organization of rehabilitation treatment: acute phase, stabilized phase, functional assessment, selection of the rehabilitation setting
  • Neuromuscular stimulation: definitions and basic principles
  • The Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES): state of the art of neuromuscular stimulators. Rehabilitation outcomes
  • FES-Cycling

9. Prostheses, orthoses, mobility systems and autonomy  

  • Introduction to Disability
  • ICIDH and ICF Classifications
  • Assistive devices for autonomy.  Prostheses and orthoses: design for all  
  • Prosthetic treatment.  Manufacturing techniques
  • Lower limb prostheses: classification and coding, endoskeletal and exoskeletal prostheses
  • Upper limb prostheses: classification and coding, cosmetic prostheses and functional orthoses
  • Mobility Aids
  • Outline of robotic systems for rehabilitation

10. Human-computer-environment  

  • Sensors for physical disabilities  
  • Access to computer systems: special keyboards and mouse emulators
  • Home automation systems and standards
  • Data transmission techniques in home automation systems
  • Home Automation and disability
  • Interfaces based on virtual reality
  • The brain-computer interface (BCI)


Teacher's notes

Power Point presentations

  • A.Cappello, A.Cappozzo, e.g. Prampero (Eds.), Bioengineering of Posture and Movement, Patron Editore, Bologna, 2003.
  • D.Popovic, T.Sinkjaer, Control of Movement for the Physically Disabled, Springer-Verlag, London, 2000. JMWinters, PECrago (Eds.)
  • Biomechanics and Neural Control of Posture and Movement, Springer-Verlag, New York, 2000.

Teaching methods

During the lectures the general issues related to the design and development of systems for the sensory-motor rehabilitation will be discussed. The course includes laboratory practicals and visits to medical centers. Numerical analysis will help designing and simulating experiments in a realistic way. These will be later performed in the laboratory of Biomedical Engineering. Short theses will allow groups of students to investigate aspects of the course through the analysis of clinical cases.

Assessment methods

The assessment will take place: 

  • in the classroom during exercise solving
  • in the laboratory during practicals
  • project 
  • final examination, written and oral

The exam consists of solving an exercise and discussing the project.

Teaching tools

Power Point presentations 

Stereo-photogrammetric system

Force platforms 

Wireless multi-channel electromyograph 

Wearable sensors and actuators

Office hours

See the website of Angelo Cappello