Towards effective non-invasive brain-computer interfaces dedicated to gait rehabilitation systems


In the last few years, significant progress has been made in the field of walk rehabilitation. Motor cortex signals in bipedal monkeys have been interpreted to predict walk kinematics. Epidural electrical stimulation in rats and in one young paraplegic has been realized to partially restore motor control after spinal cord injury. However, these experimental trials are far from being applicable to all patients suffering from motor impairments. Therefore, it is thought that more simple rehabilitation systems are desirable in the meanwhile. The goal of this review is to describe and summarize the progress made in the development of non-invasive brain-computer interfaces dedicated to motor rehabilitation systems. In the first part, the main principles of human locomotion control are presented. The paper then focuses on the mechanisms of supra-spinal centers active during gait, including results from electroencephalography, functional brain imaging technologies [near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron-emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission-computed tomography (SPECT)] and invasive studies. The first brain-computer interface (BCI) applications to gait rehabilitation are then presented, with a discussion about the different strategies developed in the field. The challenges to raise for future systems are identified and discussed. Finally, we present some proposals to address these challenges, in order to contribute to the improvement of BCI for gait rehabilitation.

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