Seminars at the Faculty of Informatics

Augmenting virtual rehabilitation for stroke with the help of immersive Virtual-Reality and Brain-Computer Interfacing

Speaker:Athanasios Vourvopoulos
 University of Madeira, Portugal
Date:Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Place:USI Lugano Campus, room SI-003, informatics building (Via G. Buffi 13)



Stroke is among the leading causes of long-term disability, leaving an increasing number of people with cognitive and motor impairments, loss of independence in their daily life and with a high societal cost.
Virtual Reality (VR) for rehabilitation or virtual rehabilitation, is considered a novel and effective low-cost approach to re-train motor and cognitive functions through strictly defined training tasks in a safe simulated environment.
However, patients with low level of motor control could not benefit due to low range of motion, pain, fatique, etc. Therefore, the idea of utilising Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) in virtual rehabilitation, was fostered in order to complement current VR rehabilitation strategies for patients suffering of flaccidity or increased levels of spasticity. The fusion of BCIs with VR allowed the enhancement of the field of virtual rehabilitation by establishing an alternative pathway between user’s brain activity and a computer system. This direct brain-to-VR communication can produce induced illusions of movement, activating overlapping brain areas with actual movement.  Ergo, BCI and VR can provide important benefits as a technique in neurorehabilitation for people with neurological impairments.
Based on our previous work, we have developed a novel BCI paradigm that makes use of multimodal feedback in an immersive VR environment delivered through a state-of-the-art Head Mounted Display (HMD), designed for stroke survivors with low level of motor control.



Athanasios Vourvopoulos is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Madeira (Portugal) and a member of NeuroRehabLab group at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI). His doctoral research entails the development of neuroscience-based interactive systems for stroke rehabilitation with the help of Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCI) and Virtual Reality (VR). 
His general research interests involve human-machine confluence through Virtual/Augmented Reality, Physiological and Ubiquitous computing.


Host:Prof. Marc Langheinrich