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Can Robotic Technology Change Neurological Assessment?

  • JJR Macleod Auditorium 1 King's College Circle Toronto, ON, M5S Canada (map)

Clinical assessment plays a crucial role in all facets of patient care, from diagnosing the disease or injury to management of rehabilitation strategies to ameliorate dysfunction. However, most neurological assessment scales for sensorimotor function are subjective in nature with relatively coarse rating systems, reflecting that it is difficult for even experienced observers to discriminate consistently small changes in performance using the naked eye. Interactive robotic technologies have had a profound impact in fundamental science to measure and modify body motion in order understand how the brain plans and controls body movement and how we learn novel motor skills. If these technologies are so useful for quantifying brain function, why not brain dysfunction?

We are exploring this question using robotic technologies that are attached to a subjects’ arms or grasped by their hands to measure arm motion, combined with integrated virtual reality systems to project objects onto the horizontal workspace. Integral to our approach is a suite of behavioural tasks to quantify a broad range of sensory, motor and cognitive functions, as well as automated scoring systems to quantify subject performance relative to that expected for neurologically healthy individuals, considering factors such as age, sex and handedness. These platforms are now being used at research institutes and hospitals around the world to quantify patterns of impairments associated with a broad range of diseases and injuries.

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Dr. Stephen Scott holds the GSK Chair in Neuroscience and is Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University. He is a leading expert on the neural basis of voluntary motor function. He is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BKIN Technologies, which commercializes the KINARM robotic technology for basic and clinical research.

Delivered in partnership with the Gairdner Foundation.