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Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, a clinical research institute in the Tongji Medical College and Department of Neurology in the Tongji Hospital, has partnered with Zheijang BrainCo. Ltd, a brain-computer interface producer for the NCyborg project.

The NCyborg Project is a study to look into the use of robots to assist patients that have suffered a stroke.

Stroke is caused when blood supply to the brain is restricted, which leads to paralysis of the left side of the body. It is the most significant cause of death in the elderly. About 75% of stroke survivors have difficulty carrying out daily tasks and require long-term rehabilitation, supervision, and care.

Limitations of traditional stroke rehabilitation 

Although rehabilitation programs use equipment to help stroke patients, this equipment does not significantly impact patients who cannot be active while undergoing rehabilitation. Instead, patients passively follow the equipment movement. Because of the lack of active participation, patient’s are not motivated to train. In addition, some rehabilitation centers might not afford any equipment.

The NCyborg project can develop brain-computer interface technology and brain-inspired artificial intelligence to improve the efficacy of stroke equipment in rehabilitation centers.

How NCyborg works

The project works by analysing and predicting a patient’s movements using its algorithm. Due to damage to their central nervous system, stroke victims cannot effectively transmit their movement intention to the peripheral nervous system. With the help of NCyborg, patient’s can realise these intended movements. It also has a motion control strategy derived from brain-inspired motion perception to allow the robots to adapt to the changing daily tasks of the patient. Rehabilitation begins by providing support to the patient’s left arm.

According to John H. Zhang, a study co-author and neurosurgery expert from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, they developed NCyborg to create an affordable, reliable, and user-friendly interface for stroke rehabilitation. Scientists also expect it to increase the improvement rate for stroke patients.

Bicheng Han, another co-author from Zhejiang Jiangnan Technology Co. Ltd., adds that millions of stroke victims could benefit from the project. Researchers hope they can make NCyborg available to the public in five years.