It is a project co-founded by Bando Compagnia di San Paolo and involved three partners: UNIGE COSMIC lab, IIT (Prof. Sandini, Dr. Brayda, https://www.iit.it/research/lines/robotics-brain-and-cognitive-sciences), and IRCCS S. Martino-IST (Prof. Abbruzzese, Dott. Ventura, http://dinogmi.unige.it/node/51).
The project addresses the area of translational medicine and aims at supporting clinical and rehabilitative processes with innovative technological methods and approaches; this goal is achieved by adopting a multidisciplinary approach that involves several scientific fields: electronics, mechatronics, bioengineering, neurophysiology, psychology.
The overall aim is the development of artificial touch systems that can communicate with the human nervous system through cutaneous electrical stimulation. The goals are common both to post-stroke and prosthetic applications: to reduce the time for rehabilitation and to attain a better functional recovery of the sensorimotor system, thus minimizing patient fatigue and training phase. In prosthetics, the challenge is to improve the effectiveness of the prosthesis along with its embodiment, which is a key factor when one targets acceptability.
The novel man-machine interface that will be the outcome of such studies can find applications in fields related to all mentioned disabilities. Future developments may lead to a single rehabilitation system, i.e. a mobile system that includes artificial skin, the electronic data acquisition / processing / stimulation control and the miniaturized array of stimulators.