Section: Research Program

Exploration and understanding of the origins and control of movement

One of Camin ’s areas of expertise is motion measurement, observation and modeling in the context of sensorimotor deficiencies. The team has the capacity to design advanced protocols to explore motor control mechanisms in more or less invasive conditions in both animal and human.

Human movement can be assessed by several noninvasive means, from motion observation (MOCAP, IMU) to electrophysiological measurements (afferent ENG, EMG, see below). Our general approach is to develop solutions that are realistic in terms of clinical or home use by clinical staff and/or patients for diagnosis and assessment purposes. In doing so, we try to gain a better understanding of motor control mechanisms, including deficient ones, which in turn will give us greater insight into the basics of human motor control. Our ultimate goal is to optimally match a neuroprosthesis to the targeted sensorimotor deficiency.

The team is involved in research projects including:

  • Peripheral nervous system (PNS) exploration, modeling and electrophysiology techniques

    Electroneurography (ENG) and electromyography (EMG) signals inform about neural and muscular activities. The team investigates both natural and evoked ENG/EMG through advanced and dedicated signal processing methods. Evoked responses to ES are very precious information for understanding neurophysiological mechanisms, as both the input (ES) and the output (evoked EMG/ENG) are controlled. Camin has the expertise to perform animal experiments (rabbits, rats, earthworms and big animals with partners), design hardware and software setups to stimulate and record in harsh conditions, process signals, analyze results and develop models of the observed mechanisms. Experimental surgery is mandatory in our research prior to invasive interventions in humans. It allows us to validate our protocols from theoretical, practical and technical aspects.

  • Central nervous system (CNS) exploration

    Stimulating the CNS directly instead of nerves allows activation of the neural networks responsible for generating functions. Once again, if selectivity is achieved the number of implanted electrodes and cables would be reduced, as would the energy demand. We have investigated spinal electrical stimulation in animals (pigs) for urinary track and lower limb function management. This work is very important in terms of both future applications and the increase in knowledge about spinal circuitry. The challenges are technical, experimental and theoretical, and the preliminary results have enabled us to test some selectivity modalities through matrix electrode stimulation. This research area will be further intensified in the future as one of ways to improve neuroprosthetic solutions.

    We intend to gain a better understanding of the electrophysiological effects of DES through electroencephalographic (EEG) and electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings in order to optimize anatomo-functional brain mapping, better understand brain dynamics and plasticity, and improve surgical planning, rehabilitation, and the quality of life of patients.

  • Muscle models and fatigue exploration

    Muscle fatigue is one of the major limitations in all FES studies. Simply, the muscle torque varies over time even when the same stimulation pattern is applied. As there is also muscle recovery when there is a rest between stimulations, modeling the fatigue is almost an impossible task. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the muscle state and assess the expected muscle response by FES to improve the current FES system in the direction of greater adaptive force/torque control in the presence of muscle fatigue.

  • Movement interpretation

    We intend to develop ambulatory solutions to allow ecological observation. We have extensively investigated the possibility of using inertial measurement units (IMUs) within body area networks to observe movement and assess posture and gait variables. We have also proposed extracting gait parameters like stride length and foot-ground clearance for evaluation and diagnosis purposes.