Plenary speakers deliver 45 minute lectures during mornings of the SSNR program. The lectures will span broad surveys of recent major developments in the neurorehabilitation field.

Oskar C. Aszmann

Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Title: TBD
In collaboration with Dario Farina and Antonio Bicchi


Antonio Bicchi
University of Pisa


In collaboration with Dario Farina and Oskar Aszmann


Etienne Burdet 
Imperial College London, UK

Title: Sensorimotor augmentation and interaction in humans

Abstract: Is it better to have three hands, or to work with a human partner? Human movement augmentation with supernumerary robotic limbs (SRLs) could allow an individual to perform tasks that cannot be accomplished with just two arms. For example, an SRL could help a hemiplegic in carrying out activities of daily living. Also, a surgeon could operate independently of any assistant, using SRLs to adjust suction or light during a complex procedure. Therefore, we are developing interfaces and techniques to control SRLs and identify the capabilities of augmented human users. However, the usual manner to complete tasks requiring more than two hands is to collaborate. Collaboration across humans is essential in many tasks, e.g. for co-piloting, during physical therapy, or to guide one’s child in their first steps. To understand the mechanisms of physical interaction between humans, we have studied how the haptic information is used by connected individuals during a collaborative motor task. We could observe that mechanically connected individuals improve their performance when connected with even a less skilled partner by exchanging motion plan information. We have also developed a computational algorithm of this interaction, a robotic partner, which induces similar performance advantages as a human partner.


Jessica D’Amico
University of Alberta, Canada
Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada

Title: Non-invasive transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation in children and adults with spinal cord injury – Safety, feasibility, efficacy and current limitations

Abstract: Neuromodulation after spinal cord injury (SCI) is a fast-growing field that demonstrates great promise with regards to the recovery of various components of motor function after injury. It has now been demonstrated across different research centers that activity-based rehabilitation combined with epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord allows individuals to regain the ability to move voluntarily (upper extremities, trunk and lower extremities), stand, and in some cases even the ability to walk overground following a complete SCI. Similar to invasive epidural stimulation delivered through implanted electrodes, non-invasive transcutaneous electrical stimulation (tcES) of the spinal cord through surface electrodes placed over the spine can elicit bilateral motor responses across multiple motoneuron pools and can also be used to modulate spinal excitability. Numerous studies have demonstrated that tcES can effectively modulate spinal neuronal circuits, ultimately facilitating motor function in uninjured and spinal cord injured individuals. This talk will briefly cover the mechanisms of tcES, safety, feasibility and efficacy of tcES in the adult and pediatric SCI populations, the current limitations and proposed approaches towards optimization of this intervention.


Julius Dewald
Northwestern University, USA

Title: Determining neural mechanisms underlying motor impairments following a unilateral brain injury for the development of new treatments with smart robotics and signal analysis

Abstract: TBD


Dario Farina
Imperial College London, UK

Title: TBD
In collaboration with Oskar Aszmann and Antonio Bicchi

Abstract: TBD


He (Helen) Huang
North Carolina State University, USA
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Title: Taking both sides: collaboration and co-adaptation of wearable robots and humans in locomotion

Abstract: TBD


Natacha León
Hospital Los Madroños, Spain

Title: Neurorehabilitation: moving the technology and innovation to clinical settings
In collaboration with Antonio Oliviero

Abstract: TBD


Denny Oetomo
University of Melbourne, Australia

Title: Classification based intention estimation and control of prostheses

Abstract: The accurate estimation of the human intention is important in realising an effective and intuitive operation of motorised prostheses (specifically, the intended limb poses). A successful approach would not only add to the functionality but also reduce the cognitive load in operating the artificial limbs. In this talk, a fundamental look at the statistical properties of the input features extracted from the wearable sensors on the human user is presented. The understanding allows us to develop systematic approaches to utilise the available data in human-prosthesis interaction strategies.


Antonio Oliviero
Hospital Nacional de Parapléjicos (National Hospital of Paraplegics), Spain

Title: Neurorehabilitation: moving the technology and innovation to clinical settings
In collaboration with Natacha Leon

Abstract: TBD


Martin Oudega
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, USA

Title: Spike Timing-Dependent Plasticity for Functional Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury: Human to Animal to Human Translation
In collaboration with Monica Perez

Abstract: TBD


Hyung-Soon Park
KAIST, Republic of Korea

Title:Precise grasp intention recognition for seamless control of high DOF hand rehabilitation robots

Abstract: The hand is an incredibly intricate body part, with over 20 degrees of freedom (DOF). Achieving complete recovery of hand function through rehabilitation robots presents significant technical challenges, particularly in the design and control of orthotic or prosthetic hand rehabilitation robots with a high DOF. This presentation will primarily focus on the control of soft wearable hand rehabilitation robots and high DOF prosthetic robotic hands. To enable seamless recognition of various hand grasping intentions, the performance of both non-invasive biological signals (such as EEG and EMG) will be discussed first and benefits of using additional non-biological signals (including cameras, IMUs, and depth sensors) will be introduced. Biological signals are employed to timely recognize intentions related to grasp, hold, and release, while non-biological signals are utilized to facilitate shared control of intricate hand postures during versatile grasping tasks. Pilot studies involving stroke survivors and able-bodied subjects will be presented to illustrate the practical application of these concepts.


Monica Perez
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, USA

Title: Spike Timing-Dependent Plasticity for Functional Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury: Human to Animal to Human Translation
In collaboration with Martin Oudega

Abstract: TBD


Miriam Rafferty
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, USA

Title: Connecting Engineering to Clinical Implementation: Frameworks for Acceleration

Abstract: TBD


Elliott Rouse
University of Michigan, USA

Title: Auctions, preferences, and wearable robots: the development of meaningful exoskeletons and robotic prostheses

Abstract: Lower-limb wearable robots—such as exoskeletons and robotic prostheses—have struggled to have the societal impact expected from these exciting technologies. In part, these challenges stem from fundamental gaps in our understanding of how and why these systems should assist their wearer during use. Wearable robots are typically designed to meet a single, specific objective (e.g. reduction of metabolic rate), however, in reality, these technologies impact many aspects of gait and user experience. In this talk, I will discuss our recent work leveraging user preference as a ‘meta-criterion’ in design and control, over which the user is able to internally balance the quantitative and qualitative tradeoffs present when using these technologies (e.g. stability, comfort, exertion, speed). Specifically, I will highlight our work understanding user-preferred assistance settings in a variable-stiffness prosthesis and bilateral ankle exoskeletons, demonstrating user-preferred assistance settings are reliable and diverse, and can be obtained in less than two minutes. In addition, I will discuss how user-preferred assistance can be adjusted automatically with human-in-the-loop optimization, which is able to converge on user-preferred settings with an accuracy of ~90%. Finally, I will introduce a new approach for understanding the success of assistive technologies using tools from behavioral economics. I will describe and quantify the economic value added by ankle exoskeletons during uphill walking, including the cost incurred from wearing the added mass, as well as the value added by the exoskeleton assistance. Together, this talk will underscore the role of the user in the development of wearable robots, including advocating for a shift away from the single-objective development and assessment of these technologies.


Massimo Sartori
University of Twente, Netherlands

Title: Shifting the paradigm: advanced human-robot interfaces for movement support technologies

Abstract: Neuromuscular injuries leave millions of people disabled worldwide every year. The impact of current rehabilitation technologies is hampered by the limited knowledge of their physical interaction with the human body. That is, rehabilitation devices such as robotic exoskeletons or neuromodulation devices, interact with the human body with no feedback of how biological targets (e.g., bones, tendons, muscles, nerves) react and adapt to mechanical or electrical stimuli, especially at extreme ends of the spatio-temporal scale, e.g., cell-to-organ growth over days, months or years. This talk will outline current work conducted in my Lab to create a new framework for ‘closing-the-loop’ between wearable technology and human biology. My talk will show initial results on how bio-electrical recordings, numerical modelling and artificial intelligence can be combined to study how the human neuro-muscular system responds over time to robotic interventions in vivo. The talk will show examples of how this paradigm can be translated towards the development of novel human-robot interfaces for restoring human movement and for preserving biological tissue integrity over time.


More information will be published soon.