Dr Geoff V. Merrett
www.geoffmerrett.co.uk
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Haptic Devices

Design and Human Evaluation of Haptic Devices for Hand Rehabilitation from Sensory Deficits due to Neurological Impairment

BBC Arabic video on haptics
Our research featured on BBC Arabic's 4Tech series (click to play)
Sensory feedback is essential for motor learning and critical to recovery from neurological impairment, such as stroke. In neurological conditions, sensory deficits are often present, limiting the potential for recovery. Current understanding of neuroplasticity would support the argument that sensory, cutaneous input (stimulation that is applied to the skin) may enhance sensory-motor learning. Current rehabilitation robots use interfaces, such as virtual reality, to increase patient motivation during therapy. However, these systems do not give tactile feedback as you would normally experience when you grasp or interact with a real object. There is a need to design a system for effective recovery of reaching and grasping following stroke that is compatible with a range of rehabilitation robots, is low-cost and can translate between hospital or home use.

In humans, haptic sensory information is both tactile (related to contact and pressure) and kinaesthetic (related to position and motion). A range of different technologies, devices, methods and techniques have been proposed for providing a realistic tactile feedback to the fingertip, and a range of these will be investigated in this project. Other applications of the technology are in virtual reality for computer aided design and gaming.

This collaborative project (between the School of Electronics and Computer Science and the School of Health Sciences) is developing novel devices for providing a tactile sensation to a person's fingertip using a variety of different technologies and mechanisms. The developed devices are evaluated through human studies to ascertain which provide the most realistic and usable sensations for use in stroke rehabilitation. Each device will be evaluated by iterative testing with unimpaired participants and stroke patients to identify which mechanism(s) provide a realistic sensation and satisfies aesthetic, comfort, reliability and calibration considerations. The project is also investigating the development and evaluation of a wearable system for providing tactile feedback to all fingers on a hand, that can potentially be integrated with an existing rehabilitation robot.

ECS video on haptics
Discussing our research into haptic devices for stroke rehabilitation (click to play)

BBC Radio Clip 1      BBC Radio Clip 2

Further information can be found on the project webpage on the ECS website: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/research/projects/729

    

Haptics Research Team

Co-Investigators:
Dr Cheryl Metcalf
Dr Sara Demain

Researchers (Current):

Researchers (Previous):
Dr Deyi Zheng (Senior Research Assistant, 2010-10)
Sarah Cunningham (Research Assistant, 2010-10)
Shaun Mooney (Intern Student, 2011-11)
Stuart Barrow (Intern Student, 2010-10)

Publications

External Data Source

This list of publications was automatically generated from the University of Southampton EPrints repository. This feed can be found on the repository's Haptics 'shelf'. EPrints is free software developed by the University of Southampton to facilitate Open Access to research.


Tactile Device Research on BBC Arabic's 4Tech show
25th February 2012

Being interviewed by BBC Arabic
Being interviewed by BBC Arabic's reporter Nassim Ramadan
Dr Sara Demain and I were interviewed by Nassim Ramadan of BBC Arabic's 4Tech show. 4Tech is considered to be the main Technology show in the Middle East and North Africa, watched by around 20 million people. During the interview, we explained our research into the use of tactile devices to help people regain movement and sensation when they are recovering from a stroke.

The interview was a somewhat strange experience, with all questions first being asked in Arabic (for which we had no idea what Nassim was asking, but was required to start answering anyway) and then English!

The piece aired today on Saturday 25th February 2012, and will be repeated seven times over the coming week. You can find a video of the interview on the BBC Arabic YouTube channel. I've had a go at adding English subtitles to the video - the result of merging a direct word-for-word translation with what we remember saying during the interview (hence we take no responsiblity for any inaccurate translations). The subtitled video clip can be viewed here (copyright BBC, 2012).

For more information, click here.
 

Press Coverage for Tactile Devices in Rehabilitation
14th November 2011

Our research on tactile devices for stroke rehabilitation has already received a fantastic amount of press coverage and public interest.

Some of this has been reported elsewhere on this webpage (for example our appearances in BBC radio and the 'FAST' government report), but a selection of the online coverage that it received (at least that which I have spotted) is listed below: I even received an email saying that it had featured as far away as the 'Borneo Post' and the 'Vietnam Tribune' newspapers!

For more information, click here.
 

Tactile Device Research on BBC Radio Solent's 'Drive Time'
5th April 2011

Being interviewed by BBC Radio Solent
Being interviewed by BBC Radio Solent
Dr Sara Demain and I appeared live today on BBC Radio Solent's 'Drive Time' show, and talked about our research on tactile devices for stroke rehabilitation.

This follows the a press release earlier in the week, that can be seen on the ECS website or, to give an example, on The Engineer. Our paper, titled 'Design and Qualitative Evaluation of Tactile Devices for Stroke Rehabilitation' will be presented tomorrow (06 April) at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Assisted Living Conference.

The interview aired during the Steve Harris show, between 16:00-19:00 on 05 April 2011. A clip of the radio interview can be downloaded here (copyright BBC, 2011).

For more information, click here.
 

Tactile Devices Trialed on Stroke Patients
19th November 2010

Sarah Cunningham evaluating the tactile devices on a participant with stroke.
Sarah Cunningham evaluating the tactile devices on a participant with stroke.
'Phase 3' of the human evaluation of the haptic devices that we have been developing is now complete.

The human evaluation section of this project had four phases; phases 1, 2 and 4 testing the devices on normal subjects, with phase 3 testing on partipicants with stroke.

The information and feedback that we have received from these trials has been invaluable in influencing the design of the devices, and has uncovered a wealth of information on the sensory perception of people following stroke.

For more information, click here.
 
     

Reseach Featured in 'New Boundaries' Magazine
25th November 2011

Dec 2011 Issue of New Boundaries
Dec 2011 Issue of New Boundaries
Our research on the use of tactile devices in stroke rehabilitation, has been featured in the latest issue of the University's biannual research magazine: 'New Boundaries'. The magazine gives a flavour of the University's broad range of research, which crosses the boundaries separating the traditional disciplines.

The 4-page article from this issue, including an interview with myself, Cheryl Metcalf and Sara Demain, can be downloaded by following this link. An excerpt from this article is shown below:

Southampton researchers are also developing novel devices that help stroke patients regain the sense of touch in their arms and hands. Dr Geoff Merrett, who is leading the project, says: "The sensory aspect of stroke rehabilitation hasn't had much attention so far, but it is vital. It's all very well being able to move your hand to pick up an object, but when you can't feel that object, you don't know whether it's slipping out of your hand or whether it's hot or cold. The devices we're designing will reinforce those perceptions."


For more information, click here.
 

Haptics Research in Government Report
11th July 2011

FAST Government Report, 2011
FAST Government Report, 2011
Our research on haptic devices for stroke rehabilitation has been featured in an annual government report on assistive technology. Our bit can be found on page 51 of the report (follow the link at the bottom of this news item).

The report is prepared by FAST (the Foundation of Assistive Technology), and is an annual publication by the Department of Health (UK Government). The report has a number of uses (including giving researchers an overview of other work in the field, and service providers information on new technologies and devices), but is also used by Government to highlight promising and successful areas of research that may require future funding.

The annual report is published pursuant to section 22 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, and describes the wide range of government funded projects supporting the development, introduction and evaluation of assistive technology that might increase the range of activities and independence or well being of disabled and older people.

For more information, click here.
 

Haptics Demo in Multidisciplinary Research Week
2nd February 2011

Discussing the research with attendees
Discussing the research with attendees
Multidisciplinary Research Week was a programme of activities aimed at showcasing different aspects of multidisciplinary work at the University of Southampton.

As a part of the week, we gave a demonstration of our haptic devices to attendees during a drop in session, where visitors could try out the devices and find out more about the research. We were also able to highlight the benefits that were obtained through a multidisciplinary approach to the research. One of the attendees commented:
"The varied applications are really interesting. I liked hearing how the technology could be used in the home, with rehabilitation possible using developed console games."
During the event, we were interviewed by BBC Radio Solent, and gave the reporter a demonstration of our devices. The interview aired during the Alex Dyke show, between 9:30-13:00 on 02 February 2011. A clip of the radio interview can be downloaded here (copyright BBC, 2011).

For more information, click here.
 

Haptics Demoed at SoNG Outreach Event
18th November 2010

The Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)
The Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)
Our interdisciplinary research on haptic devices for tactile interaction was showcased at this year's SoNG 'Outreach' event'. The Outreach event was held to showcase research to both the University and selected school teachers, charities, patient groups and industrialists. At the event, we demonstrated some of the wearable tactile devices that we have produced through the project, and reported on the findings of their evaluation on human participants.

The Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG) is a network of more than 100 academics, clinicians, and practitioners. SoNG activities improve opportunities for interdisciplinary research, dialogue with stakeholders and links with the local community through public engagement and outreach.

For more information, click here.
 
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