To be completed

Prof. Nicola Vitiello

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa (Italy)

Short bio

Nicola Vitiello is Associate Professor with The BioRobotics Institute (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, SSSA, Pisa, Italy) where he leads the Wearable Robotics Laboratory. He is co-author of more than 60 ISI/Scopus papers and co-inventor of more than 15 patents/patent applications. He served as the Scientific Secretary of the EU FP7 CA-RoboCom project, and he was the scientific project coordinator of the EU FP7 CYBERLEGs project. Currently he is the scientific project coordinator of the H2020-ICT-CYBERLEGs Plus Plus project, the national project MOTU funded by INAIL, and is partner of the H2020-ICT-AIDE and H2020-FoF-HUMAN projects. On 2015, he co-founded IUVO Srl, a spin-off company of SSSA.

Title: Wearable robotics at The BioRobotics Institute


Ageing population affects society welfare sustainability. The ageing of the population is one of the most critical challenges current industrialized societies will have to face in the next years, and threatens the sustainability of our social welfare. Among many diseases, gait disorders are common and often devastating companions of ageing, leading to reductions in quality of life and increased mortality. This presentation will introduce the research activities carried out at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in the field of wearable robots for human movement assistance, rehabilitation and augmentation.

PD Dr. Surjo Soekadar

University Hospital of Tübingen

Short Bio: Surjo R. Soekadar, MD, studied medicine in Mainz, Heidelberg and Baltimore. After a Research Fellowship at the Human Cortical Physiology and Stroke Neurorehabilitation Section (HCPS) at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS, NIH, USA), he continued his work at the University Hospital of Tübingen, Germany, where he became head of the Applied Neurotechnology Laboratory. His scientific interests include cortical plasticity in the context of brain-machine interface (BMI) applications, non-invasive brain stimulation and neural mechanisms of learning and memory, particularly in the context of neurorehabilitation. Clinically, Dr. Soekadar serves as attending physician at the University Hospital of Tübingen. Dr. Soekadar received various prizes such as the NIH-DFG Research Career Transition Award, the NIH Fellows’ Award for Research Excellence, the International BCI Research Award (together with Niels Birbaumer), the BioMag Young Investigator Award and the NARSAD Young Investigator Award. In 2017, he received one of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants to develop the next-generation brain/neural machine interfaces. In early 2018, he was appointed as Professor for Clinical Neurotechnology at the Charité in Berlin.

Title: Restoration of finger and arm movements using hybrid brain/neural assistive technology in everyday life environments

Abstract: Controlling advanced robotic systems with brain signals promises substantial improvements in health care, for example, to restore intuitive control of hand movements after severe stroke or spinal cord injuries (SCI). However, such integrated, brain- or neural-controlled robotic systems have yet to enter broader clinical use and daily life environments. The main challenge to integrate such systems in everyday life environments relates to the reliability of brain-control, particularly when brain signals are recorded non-invasively. Here, we introduce our most recent advances in improving applicability of brain-controlled robotic devices in everyday life environments. Besides having an immediate impact on quality of life, recent studies indicate that repeated use of brain/neural-controlled exoskeletons can trigger neurological recovery after brain and spinal cord lesions. We, thus, suggest that combining an assistive and rehabilitative approach may further promote BMI technology as a standard therapy option after severe stroke or SCI for which currently no other therapy exists.

Prof. Nicolas Garcia-Aracil

Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche

Short Bio: Nicolas Garcia-Aracil is Full Professor of Control and Systems Engineering at Miguel Hernandez University (Spain). He holds a M.Sc. in Control Engineering by the University of Murcia (1996, Spain), Master in Design, Robotics and Industrial Automation from University of Murcia (Spain) 1996-1997 and a PhD in Control Engineering by the Miguel Hernandez University of Elche (Spain). Prof. Garcia-Aracil is co-author of more than 50 ISI/Scopus papers and co-inventor of more than 7 patents/patent applications. Currently, he is project coordinator of the European H2020-ICT-AIDE project. He has been appointed as Visiting Scientist at INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique), Sophia Antipolis, FRANCE), in 2003 and at Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen-Wessling, Germany, in 2006. His current research interests are rehabilitation robotics, medical irobotics, computer vision, human-robot Interaction and design and control of new robotic devices. Dr. Nicolas Garcia-Aracil was a 2004 recipient of the Best Thesis in Roboticsˇ, National Research Prize, from the Spanish Federation of Automatic control. He is author or co-author of a broad range of research publications. He served as Program Co-Chair of the 2012 IEEE RAS\EMBS BIOROB.

Abstract: Around 80 million people in the EU, a sixth of its population, have a disability. They are often hindered from full social and economic participation by various barriers related to physical, psychological and social factors. According to Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities signed by the European Commission in 2010, accessibility is a basic right for all persons with disabilities.  The purpose of accessibility is to enable persons with disabilities to  live independently  and to participate in all aspects of life.

Nowadays, the recent trends in assistive technology for supporting activities of daily living (ADL), mobility, communication and so on are based on the integration of the capabilities of the user and the assistive technologies. The improvement of the interaction and cooperation between user and assistive technologies, can be split in three main areas: 1) improvements of the assistive devices, such as, mechanical parts, electronic parts, etc.; 2) improvements of the user-technology interface; and 3) improved shared-control between the user and assistive technology.

The talk will present the main results of AIDE European project. The AIDE project had the goal to strongly contributing to the improvement of the user-technology interface by developing and testing a modular and adaptive multimodal interface customizable to the individual needs of people with disabilities. It is, furthermore, focus on the development of a totally new shared-control paradigm for assistive devices that integrates information from identification of residual abilities, behaviors, emotional state and intentions of the user on one hand and analysis of the environment and context factors on the other hand.

Prof. Michelle Johnson

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Short Bio: Michelle J. Johnson, Ph.D., is currently Assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has a secondary appointment as an Assistant professor in Bioengineering and is a member of the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics graduate group. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, with an emphasis in mechatronics, robotics, and design, from Stanford University.  She completed a NSF-NATO post-doctoral fellowship at the Advanced Robotics Technology and Systems Laboratory at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy. She directs the Rehabilitation Robotic Research and Design Laboratory located at the new Pennsylvania Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine. The lab is affiliated with the GRASP Lab. The lab specializes in the design, development, and therapeutic use of novel, affordable, intelligent robotic assistants for rehabilitation. Dr. Johnson’s research currently focuses on using robotics to understand arm dysfunction and recovery after brain injury.

Title: Designing Human-Robot Interaction Based on Observed Patient-Therapist Interactions during Stroke Therapy

Abstract: By 2030 about 10.8 million older adults will be living with disability due to a stroke. Providing a good quality of life for these older adults requires maximizing independent functioning after a stroke. This implies that in the future, more stroke rehabilitation must occur outside the traditional clinical setting and in more community based settings such as adult daycare centers, independent living and assisted living centers. Robots can play a unique role in supporting independent living and stroke rehabilitation in non-traditional settings. In this talk, we discuss how to improve robot-patient interactions in task-oriented stroke therapy, which currently do not accurately model therapist-patient interactions in the real world. From observations of patient-therapist interactions in task-oriented stroke therapy captured in 8 videos showing therapists and stroke patients practicing diverse ADLs, we describe three dyads of interactions where the therapist and the patient take on a set of acting states or roles and are motivated to move from one role to another when certain physical or verbal stimuli or cues are sensed and received. We propose possible model for robot-patient interaction and discuss challenges to its implementation, including the ethics.

Eng. PhD. Stefano Mazzoleni

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa (Italy)

Short Bio: Stefano Mazzoleni received the University degree (Laurea) in Computer Engineering from the University of Pisa (Italy) in 2002 and the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Genoa (Italy) in 2007. Currently he is Assistant Professor at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa. In 2005 he received the “Student Travel Award” at the IEEE 9th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics in Chicago, USA. He is head of the joint “Rehabilitation Bioengineering Laboratory” between Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and “Auxilium Vitae” Rehabilitation Centre in Volterra (Italy). His research interests include rehabilitation robotics, bioengineering, human-machine interfaces, motor control, motor recovery, human-robot interaction, ICT systems for telerehabilitation and telemonitoring applications. He is author of more than 100 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences. He is member of several Editorial Boards of international scientific journals in the fields of robotics, bioengineering and automation. He is member of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE RAS), IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), IEEE Brain Community and Italian Robotics NeuroRehabilitation Group (IRNRG). He is member of research group in Neurobioethics coordinated by the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy. Since 2012 he is serving as co-chair in the IEEE/RAS Technical Committee on “Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics”. He is program co-chair of the International Conference on NeuroRehabilitation 2018 which will be held in Pisa from October 16 to October 20, 2018.

Title: Combined robot-assisted rehabilitation treatments and metrics for quantitative assessment

Abstract: A better understanding of the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying motor and cognitive recovery after neurological impairments (such as stroke and spinal cord injury) has led to the development of innovative rehabilitation strategies and tools that incorporate key elements of motor skill re-learning such as intensive training involving goal-oriented repeated movements.

Robotic devices for the upper limb and gait are increasingly used in rehabilitation: several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these devices in reducing motor impairments, but only limited evidence has been found on the improvement of upper limb and gait function so far.

Other studies have investigated the effects of combined approaches that target muscle recruitment (e.g., functional electrical stimulation), neural activity modulation (e.g., noninvasive brain stimulation) and motivation enhancement (e.g., Virtual Reality) in an attempt to enhance the benefits of robot-assisted training.

An overview of combined upper limb and gait robot-assisted rehabilitation with other therapeutic approaches potentially able to promote and enhance functional recovery will be presented.

In addition a discussion of some relevant metrics which can be used in association with clinical outcome measures as quantitative assessment of robot-assisted rehabilitation treatments able to highlight even a functional recovery will be carried out.