Article

Recent developments in biofeedback for neuromotor rehabilitation

Abstract and Figures

The original use of biofeedback to train single muscle activity in static positions or movement unrelated to function did not correlate well to motor function improvements in patients with central nervous system injuries. The concept of task-oriented repetitive training suggests that biofeedback therapy should be delivered during functionally related dynamic movement to optimize motor function improvement. Current, advanced technologies facilitate the design of novel biofeedback systems that possess diverse parameters, advanced cue display, and sophisticated control systems for use in task-oriented biofeedback. In light of these advancements, this article: (1) reviews early biofeedback studies and their conclusions; (2) presents recent developments in biofeedback technologies and their applications to task-oriented biofeedback interventions; and (3) discusses considerations regarding the therapeutic system design and the clinical application of task-oriented biofeedback therapy. This review should provide a framework to further broaden the application of task-oriented biofeedback therapy in neuromotor rehabilitation.
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BioMed Central
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Journal of NeuroEngineering and
Rehabilitation
Open Access
Review
Recent developments in biofeedback for neuromotor rehabilitation
He Huang
1
, Steven L Wolf
2
and Jiping He*
1,3
Address:
1
Center for Neural Interface Design in The Biodesign Institute, and Harrington Department of Bioengineering, Arizona State University,
Tempe, Arizona, 85287, USA,
2
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, 30322, USA and
3
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
Email: He Huang - he.huang@asu.edu; Steven L Wolf - swolf@emory.edu; Jiping He* - jiping.he@asu.edu
* Corresponding author
Abstract
The original use of biofeedback to train single muscle activity in static positions or movement
unrelated to function did not correlate well to motor function improvements in patients with
central nervous system injuries. The concept of task-oriented repetitive training suggests that
biofeedback therapy should be delivered during functionally related dynamic movement to optimize
motor function improvement. Current, advanced technologies facilitate the design of novel
biofeedback systems that possess diverse parameters, advanced cue display, and sophisticated
control systems for use in task-oriented biofeedback. In light of these advancements, this article:
(1) reviews early biofeedback studies and their conclusions; (2) presents recent developments in
biofeedback technologies and their applications to task-oriented biofeedback interventions; and (3)
discusses considerations regarding the therapeutic system design and the clinical application of
task-oriented biofeedback therapy. This review should provide a framework to further broaden the
application of task-oriented biofeedback therapy in neuromotor rehabilitation.
Review of early biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback can be defined as the use of instrumentation
to make covert physiological processes more overt; it also
includes electronic options for shaping appropriate
responses [1-3]. The use of biofeedback provides patients
with sensorimotor impairments with opportunities to
regain the ability to better assess different physiological
responses and possibly to learn self-control of those
responses [4]. This approach satisfies the requirement for
a therapeutic environment to "heighten sensory cues that
inform the actor about the consequences of actions (for-
ward modeling) and allows adaptive strategies to be
sought (inverse modeling)" [5]. The clinical application
of biofeedback to improve a patient's motor control
begins by re-educating that control by providing visual or
audio feedback of electromyogram (EMG), positional or
force parameters in real time [6,7]. Studies on EMG bio-
feedback indicated that patients who suffer from sensori-
motor deficits can volitionally control single muscle
activation and become more cognizant of their own EMG
signal [8,9]. The neurological mechanisms underlying the
effectiveness of biofeedback training are unclear, how-
ever. Basmajian [10] has suggested two possibilities:
either new pathways are developed, or an auxiliary feed-
back loop recruits existing cerebral and spinal pathways.
Wolf [7], favoring the latter explanation, posited that vis-
ual and auditory feedback activate unused or underused
synapses in executing motor commands. As such, contin-
ued training could establish new sensory engrams and
help patients perform tasks without feedback [7]. Overall,
biofeedback may enhance neural plasticity by engaging
Published: 21 June 2006
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2006, 3:11 doi:10.1186/1743-0003-3-11
Received: 25 October 2005
Accepted: 21 June 2006
This article is available from: http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/3/1/11
© 2006 Huang et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2006, 3:11 http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/3/1/11
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auxiliary sensory inputs, thus making it a plausible tool
for neurorehabilitation.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, many studies investigated
the effects of biofeedback therapy on the treatment of
motor deficits in the upper extremity (UE) [11-18] and
lower extremity (LE) [19-30] by comparing the effects of
biofeedback training with no therapy or with conven-
tional therapy (CT). Patients included those with strokes
[12-14,18-24,26-31], traumatic brain injury [15,32], cere-
bral palsy [25,33,34], and incomplete spinal cord injury
[16,17]. Because this review focuses on new technologies
and to avoid repeating past study findings, we only sum-
marize briefly the main characteristics of clinical applica-
tions of biofeedback for neuromotor therapy.
The applied physiological sources to be fed back included
EMG [11-14,17,22-24,26,29,30,35], joint angle
[20,29,31,36], position [37,38], and pressure or ground
reaction force [39-41]. EMG was employed as a primary
biofeedback source to down-train activity of a hyperactive
muscle or up-train recruitment of a weak muscle, thus
improving muscular control over a joint [6]. Angular or
positional biofeedback was used to improve patients' abil-
ity to self-regulate the movement of a specific joint.
Parameters such as center of gravity or center of pressure,
derived from ground reaction forces measured by a force
plate, were often used as feedback sources during balance
retraining programs.
Although EMG was used most frequently, it may not
always be the best biofeedback source for illustrating
motor control during dynamic movement. For example,
Mandel et al. [26] demonstrated that with hemiparetic
patients, rhythmic ankle angular biofeedback therapy
generated a faster walking speed than EMG biofeedback
without increasing the patients' energy cost.
Regardless of the type of biofeedback employed cues in
past designs were usually displayed in a relatively simplis-
tic format with analog, digital or binary values. The feed-
back is indicated through visual display, auditory pitch or
volume, or mechanical tactile stimulation, with the last
arising from a simple mechanical vibrating stimulator
attached to the skin [33].
In addition, patients in older biofeedback studies learned
to regulate a specific parameter through a quantified cue
while in a static position, or they performed a simple
movement unrelated to the activities of daily living (ADL)
[13,23,24,30]. We define this as "static biofeedback";
EMG is a classic form. Traditional EMG biofeedback stud-
ies showed that patients can improve voluntary control of
the activity of the trained muscle and/or increase the range
of motion of a joint that the trained muscle controls
[12,22,23]. The overall effect of this type of biofeedback
training on motor recovery is inconsistent, however.
Meta-analyses of studies on stroke patients exemplify this
[3,42-44]. Schleenbaker and Mainous [42] showed a sta-
tistically significant effect from EMG biofeedback,
whereas the other studies concluded that little, if any,
improvement could be definitively determined [3,43,44].
As is true for many meta-analyses, contradictory conclu-
sions might result from different assessment criteria or
from incongruities in the specification of performance
measurements. Schleenbaker and Mainous [42] included
non-randomized control studies in their analysis; other
analyses considered data only from randomized control-
led trials (RCT) [3,43,44].
Diversity among outcome measurements also promotes
alternative conclusions among biofeedback studies. Glanz
et al. [44] used range of motion as an assessment criterion,
while the other analyses used functional scores. EMG bio-
feedback yielded positive effects if the outcome measure-
ment was related to control of a specific muscle or joint
[12,22,23,45]. Most results and reviews of static biofeed-
back therapy, however, do not demonstrate that it leads to
significant motor function recovery [16,18,30,43,46]. For
example, Wolf et al . down-trained the antagonist and up-
trained the agonist of an elbow extensor by static EMG
biofeedback. This did not help stroke patients to extend
their elbows during a goal-directed reaching task, and
muscle co-contraction still occurred during coordinated
movement [18]. Furthermore, the application of static
EMG biofeedback training to LE of hemiplegic patients
did not affect functional walking [30,43]. Static EMG bio-
feedback therapy may thus produce only specific and lim-
ited effects on motor function recovery [47].
Variables such as the site or size of the brain lesion, the
patient's motivation during therapy, and his/her cognitive
ability may influence the effectiveness of biofeedback or
any therapy. Moreland and colleagues [3,43] included in
their meta-analyses studies with control groups that
received conventional physical therapy, whereas the other
two reports analyzed studies with no therapy in the con-
trol group. The latter are potentially biased in favor of bio-
feedback therapy. These inconsistent experimental
protocols surely contributed to the contradictory conclu-
sions [7]. A better design for experimental protocols to
evaluate the efficacy of biofeedback therapy needs to be
adopted [7,43,44]. Randomized controlled trials (RCT)
are the gold standard for obtaining a statistically accepta-
ble conclusion; double blind experimental designs best
eliminate bias [7]. Given contemporary ethical considera-
tions, however, double blind feedback studies in which
neither the patient nor the evaluator knows if the feed-
back was bogus or real are probably impractical.
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Biofeedback provided during function-related task train-
ing is defined as task-oriented or "dynamic biofeedback"
(in comparison to static biofeedback). While several past
studies employed a form of dynamic biofeedback for
rehabilitation of postural control or walking [26,29,37] or
with reaching and grasping tasks [48], the applied tech-
nology and training protocol were relatively simplistic by
today's standards.
Current developments in biofeedback in
neurorehabilitation
New concept: from static to task-oriented biofeedback
One major goal of rehabilitation is for patients with
motor deficits to reacquire the ability to perform func-
tional tasks. This is intended to facilitate independent liv-
ing. Contemporary opinion on motor control principles
suggests that improvement in functional activities would
benefit from task-oriented biofeedback therapy
[5,30,43,46]. Because any functional ADL task explicitly
requires an interaction between the neuromuscular sys-
tem and the environment, effective motor training should
incorporate movement components and an environment
that resemble the targeted task in the relevant functional
context [49,50]. Thus, task learning must be linked to a
clearly defined functional goal. In neuromotor rehabilita-
tion, task-oriented training encourages a patient to
explore the environment and to solve specific movement
problems [5]. Therefore, effective biofeedback therapy for
patients with motor deficits should re-educate the motor
control system during dynamic movements that are func-
tionally-goal oriented rather than relying primarily upon
static control of a single muscle or joint activity.
Several studies have focused on repetitive task-oriented
training in which real-time biofeedback is provided dur-
ing task performance [20,29,35,37,38,43,51,52]. How-
ever, a task-oriented feedback therapy approach requires
overcoming several difficulties.
During the training of functional tasks, it is important to
choose the best information or variable to feed back. Mus-
cle activity is not always superior [26]. The choice of a bio-
feedback vehicle should depend upon the motor control
mechanism, training task, and therapeutic goal [46].
Assume that the training task for a hemiparetic patient is
to reach for and grasp a cup of coffee using only the
affected arm. Recent motor control models suggest that
the brain may control limb kinematics in a reaching task
by shifting the equilibrium points [53] or creating a "vir-
tual trajectory" of the end-point [54], instead of scaling
individual muscle activity patterns [55]. Therefore, hand
trajectory may be a more viable feedback variable than
muscle activity for reaching related tasks [56]. In addition
to hand transportation, successful reaching and grasping
actions also require a hand orientation permitting the
alignment of the finger-thumb opposition axis with that
of the object [57-59], and control of the finger grip aper-
ture [60]. These variables should be considered when
designing dynamic feedback options to facilitate limb
control [61].
Using multiple indices brings out another difficulty, how-
ever: how does the system feed back multiple sources of
information to patients whose cognition and perception
may also be impaired without overloading them with
information? If the variables were displayed with tradi-
tional abstract and quantitative cues, either visual or audi-
tory, patients may not pay attention to all of them.
Inevitably, the ability to process multiple sources will
become overburdened [50]. The patient may become con-
fused and distracted, resulting in rapid deterioration of
task performance. Designing a biofeedback system that
overcomes the "information overloading" obstacle for
task retraining is both a technical and conceptual chal-
lenge.
Therefore, an effective task-oriented biofeedback system
requires orchestrated feedback of multiple variables that
characterize the task performance without overwhelming
a patient's perception and cognitive ability. A usable sys-
tem of biofeedback for repetitive task training in neuro-
motor rehabilitation requires sophisticated technology
for sensory fusion and presentation to be available for
adoption. Fortunately, technology in this area has
advanced considerably since early studies on biofeedback.
New technologies and applications for task-oriented
biofeedback training
Information fusion
An information/sensory fusion approach is one way to
reduce information overload to patients during biofeed-
back therapy. Information fusion involves integrating a
dynamic and volatile flow of information from multimo-
dal sources and multiple locations to determine the state
of the monitored system. [62-64]. Information fusion can
occur at different conceptual levels, including data acqui-
sition (numerical/symbolic information), processing
(such as features and decisions), and modeling [62]. This
approach is beneficial because it mimics human intelli-
gence. As a result, it improves the robustness of machine
perception or decision making to monitor or control
dynamic systems or those with uncertain states [62].
Information fusion is analogous to augmented feedback
information given by therapists while training patients to
perform a task. It can be designed to identify the patient's
performance based on sensing data and to decide the use-
fulness of providing feedback through cues. The compos-
ite variables that information fusion constructs from
multiple information flows provide intuitive and easily
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presented information relevant for knowledge of perform-
ance (KP) and therapeutic result.
Figure 1 summarizes the general architecture of a task-ori-
ented biofeedback system with multimodal sensor inputs
[65,66]. Table 1 lists the function of each module shown
in Figure 1. The central controller is the system kernel and
contains the fusion algorithms. It receives processed data
observed or derived from sensors, a priori knowledge
from a database or data storage, and biofeedback rules
from the rule base. The embedded fusion algorithm recog-
nizes the current state of the performance based on these
inputs and makes decisions for the feedback display.
The appropriate sensors to use in a biofeedback system
depend on the training task and therapeutic goal. Ever-
increasing processing power allows both data streams
from multiple sensory sources and instant displays of the
parameters derived by a complex algorithm or mathemat-
ical model. For instance, biomechanical models have
been applied in several task-oriented biofeedback studies
to calculate and feed back several variables in real time.
These include joint angles and their derivatives from a
motion capture camera [67,68], the configuration of fin-
gers from an RMII Glove sensitive to fingertip positions
[69], and the patient's self-generated joint torque from
force and angle sensors [70].
A database is classically defined as a collection of informa-
tion organized efficiently for data storage and query [71].
The biofeedback rule database contains rules that define
how sensory information will be processed, how deci-
sions will be made, and in what format information will
be presented to the patient or therapist. They often take
the form of direct mapping from sensory information to
various types of augmented feedback, such as visual, audi-
tory or tactile. Other rules are complex models that proc-
ess the sensory information before feedback. These rules
can be stored with raw data and should be updated and
expanded as technology or knowledge advance. A simple
device may only require data storage, while a complicated
fusion algorithm may require the execution of data min-
ing algorithms to obtain a patient's previous performance
as prior knowledge, and then adjust the rule and decision
criteria to form a user specific training protocol and inter-
face [72].
Previous studies typically used a limited number of sen-
sors so that the data fusion method and the structure of
the applied biofeedback system were relatively simple
[29,35,73]. For example, one study retrained spinal
General architecture of a multisensing task-oriented biofeedback systemFigure 1
General architecture of a multisensing task-oriented biofeedback system. The detailed functions of each module in
the flowchart are described in Table 1.
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injured patients to correct a Trendelenburg gait [35]. The
microcontroller-based portable biofeedback device inte-
grated the data from EMG and insole pressure sensors,
classified the patient's gait into "proper," "improper due
to slow walking speed," or "improper due to low muscle
activities during the swing phase," and then fed back the
classification to patients through different auditory tones.
In this case, the data fusion algorithm was equivalent to a
classifier with manually set threshold. The biofeedback
rules simply mapped a movement condition to a type of
auditory tone. For a complicated task-oriented biofeed-
back system with more sensor inputs and intelligent mon-
itoring and control, effective data fusion may require
more sophisticated algorithms, such as artificial neural
networks or a fuzzy logic based approach [74].
Two examples that apply complex multisensing systems
and fusion algorithms are real-time movement tracking
[75,76] and movement pattern recognition [67]. One
reported multisensing system included magnetic, angular
rate, and gravity sensors to track the 3-D angular motion
of body segments. The sensory fusion employed a
quaternion-based Kalman filter [75,77]. The movement
status was fed back by animating a virtual human on the
screen. In another study, a Kalman filter-based fusion
algorithm fused data from a tri-axis accelerometer, gyro
and magnetometer to more accurately track the position
and orientation of human body segments [76]. The
authors proposed that the system could be applied to vir-
tual reality for medicine without discussing details.
In addition, a research team from the Arts, Media, and
Engineering program at Arizona State University applied
information fusion to an interactive art performance.
They developed a fusion algorithm to recognize gesture
patterns presented by dancers in real-time. The informa-
tion was then fed back through digital graphics and
sounds that reacted to, accompanied, and commented on
the choreography [78]. A motion capture system with
multiple cameras was used to monitor the position in 3D
space of markers attached to a dancer. Postural features
such as joint angles were extracted and then fused for rec-
ognition of movement patterns [67]. Due to variations in
dancers' morphology and execution of the same gestures,
a database was developed to store fusion algorithms in
addition to customized parameters that allowed the algo-
rithm to adapt to different users. However, none of these
studies reported technical details on the implemented
fusion algorithms [67,75,76].
Although information fusion is a potentially powerful
tool for advanced biofeedback systems integrating multi-
modal and multisensor information, the challenge of
determining the most appropriate and effective means to
provide feedback remains.
Virtual reality: technology and application
Multimedia based cue design for task-oriented biofeedback
A challenge in neuromotor rehabilitation is to identify the
best methods to provide repetitive therapy for task train-
ing; these should involve multimodal processes to facili-
tate motor function recovery [61]. Task-oriented
Table 1: Function of Basic Modules in Multisensing Biofeedback Systems for Task Training.
Component Function
Multiple Sensors Multiple sensors transform various physiological or movement related information into recordable electronic
signals.
Data Acquisition Analog signals from multiple sensors are sampled, quantified and streamed into a control system.
Data Processing The digital filter smoothes the data. The embedded algorithm or mathematical model can derive the secondary
parameters as biofeedback indices.
Central Controller The central controller is the kernel of the system. This module receives data from multiple sensors. Based on
the biofeedback rules and user's pervious performance, the fusion algorithm in the controller identifies the
participant's current state of task performance and decides the cue display.
Biofeedback Rule Base This module stores a set of rules or criteria that can be defined by therapist via user interface or by prior
knowledge of performance contained in the database. The rules or criteria are elements of the fusion
algorithm. Decision making regarding the feedback display must obey these rules.
Multimodal Biofeedback Cue This component configures the display hardware such as the screen, speaker, and haptic device. The program
controls the display of augmented multimodal feedbacks based on commands from the controller.
Database The database functions the same as traditional memory but with a more efficient structure for data
management. It stores the parameters that are important to quantitatively evaluate the motor performance of
patient. The controller and rule base access the database, query the patient's prior performance, and then
adjust the feedback parameters and display. The database also allows direct access from authorized users.
Human-Machine Interface This module configures the operation setting, rule choosing, etc. Through the human-machine interface, clients
can customize the biofeedback training program based on their preferences. Authorized therapists or clients
can access the record of a specific patient from the database to evaluate progress toward recovery.
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biofeedback therapy might be more widely effective if the
biofeedback cues were: (1) multimodal, so perceptive and
cognitive functions are involved in the physical therapy;
(2) attractive and motivating, to keep the subject atten-
tive; and (3) easy-to-understand, to avoid the information
overloading problem. Multimedia based technology can
be used to design biofeedback cues possessing these fea-
tures. Multimedia uses computerized graphics/animation,
sound, and/or haptic stimulation to immerse the user in a
constructed virtual environment. This technology is thus
called virtual reality (VR) in many studies.
Multimedia environments can offer real-life experiences
by providing visual, auditory and physical interactions in
an engaging manner. This may make them more effective
than classic biofeedback presentation methods for task-
oriented therapy. For example, a "room" scenario is
designed to simulate ADL [72,73,79]. In the virtual room
patients can practice functional tasks such as making cof-
fee, pouring water into a glass [73], and reaching and
grasping an object on a table or shelf (Figure 2) [79,80].
However, the real therapeutic benefits of these systems
remain to be proven by well designed clinical trials.
An immersive multimedia environment is ideal for multi-
modal sensory feedback. Visual feedback is easily accom-
plished via computer graphics. A 3D stereo visual
environment can be created with head-mounted displays
(HMD) or 3D monitors [82,83]. These methods may not
be suitable for neuromotor therapy among patients with
brain injury, however, because motion sickness, dizziness
and visual problems may occur [84]. A large screen with
depth reference frames to aid 3D perception is an alterna-
tive choice.
Virtual environment designFigure 2
Virtual environment design. The design of a virtual living room is illustrated. The virtual arm animates the patient's arm
movement in real time. The patient can explore the virtual environment and perform the goal-directed reaching task. The
green line indicates the ideal trajectory. The cone shape constrains the spatial error of endpoint position and provides direct
knowledge of performance [72].
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Surround sound can provide an immersive environment
in which to provide auditory biofeedback. Sound is a very
effective feedback source for temporal information; visual
information works better for spatial feedback [72]. Audi-
tory feedback can take the form of pleasant and captive
music pieces rather than the simplistic and often annoy-
ing tones or beeps in older biofeedback studies. Studies
have shown that music can synchronize motor outputs
[85,86], improve the motor coordination of Parkinson
patients [87], and enhance motor learning in a patient
with large-fiber sensory neuropathy [86].
A research team at ASU is developing an immersive mul-
timedia environment for biofeedback therapy (Fig. 2).
The visual feedback presents the arm configuration and
ideal trajectory of the hand from initial location to target.
A cone shaped object indicates the spatial error of the end-
point. If the spatial error is large and the hand moves out-
side the boundary (spatial limits) of the guiding cone, the
transparency of the cone becomes reduced, i.e., the cone
is more visible. This produces the KP that tells the patient
to correct the error. In addition to the visual feedback,
auditory feedback in the form of musical notes indicates
the smoothness and temporal-spatial parameters of the
endpoint trajectory to improve multi-joint coordination
(Figure 3) and to map the movement quality of the partic-
ipant in real-time. Music notes within a phrase are distrib-
uted spatially along the specified path. These notes
indicate the distance the hand has moved toward the tar-
get, with each note corresponding to a short distance
along the path. When the hand reaches a point along the
path where a musical note is located, the corresponding
note starts to play. The duration of each note depends on
movement speed. Therefore, patients could "compose"
different melodies based on movement pattern and qual-
ity. If the movement is spastic, for example, the musical
phrase could be distorted by multiple repetitions of a
note. This music will play the same role as beeps in pacing
the patient, but it will also provide information on speed
and smoothness. In addition, another music phrase mon-
itors trunk motion to signal the patient to reduce the com-
pensatory motion in reaching [70]. In this case the
volume indicates the amount of compensation.
Finally, haptic feedback has also been developed for task-
oriented biofeedback studies [33,61,69,79,88-91]. Haptic
interfaces allow the patient to interact with and to manip-
ulate a virtual object. Results [69,89] have shown that
haptic information provides knowledge of results (KR)
and feeds back kinaesthetic sensations that are important
for task performance. Haptics also encourage patients to
immerse themselves in the virtual environment [61]. Hap-
tic devices include the six degree of freedom (DOF) Cyber-
grasp from Immersion Corporation [89], the PHANTOM
Haptic Interface [92], the 3DOF Haptic Master from
Fokker Control Systems [79], and the Rutgers Master II-
ND (RMII) force feedback [69,92].
Motivation and attention are two key factors in the success
of therapies to induce neuroplasticity [93]. In earlier bio-
feedback approaches, the information presented often
took the form of lines or bars on a computer screen or
simple beeps. These were neither intuitive nor attention
grabbing. Such feedback often makes participants, espe-
cially children, tire or become distracted quickly [25].
Novel VR based biofeedback systems can promote sus-
tained attention, self-confidence, and motivation of par-
ticipants during the repetitive task therapy through
multimodal immersive displays and interactive training
programs [79,90,94]. In some studies, the scenarios were
also designed as games, such as goal keeping [94] or ten-
nis playing [5], in an effort to engage the patient's active
participation.
Finally, VR used as an integrated information technology
can increase the patient's ability to process perceptual
information in multisensing task-oriented biofeedback
applications [95]. In virtual environments, the multimo-
dal sensory cues that feed back multiple flows of informa-
tion are presented to resemble scenes in the "real world"
or in nature. Such an intuitive form of feedback is more
easily perceived by brain injured patients than multiple
abstract and quantified presentations that use formulas or
numerics. Because the multisensing biofeedback system
for functional retraining must also solve the information
overloading problem, multimodal VR based feedback dis-
play offers a promising alternative approach.
There are other advantages of VR technology in task-ori-
ented biofeedback as well. The virtual environment and
Musical feedback designFigure 3
Musical feedback design. Musical notes are distributed
along the hand's path from initial location to the target.
Reaching a particular distance triggers the corresponding
note to play. The curve indicates the hand-to-target distance
during the arm reaching and withdrawal [72].
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training tasks are easily customized by the computer pro-
gram [5]. Also, VR technology can assess the motor func-
tion recovery of patients [96,97]. Piron and co-workers
[96] showed that objective measurements of task per-
formance in VR produced high sensitivity and repeatabil-
ity. Moreover, the augmented feedback, i.e., KR and KP,
displayed in virtual environment can improve motor
learning [50,98]. KR indicates the degree to which the per-
former achieved the desired movement outcome or thera-
peutic goal. KP is the augmented feedback of the quality
of produced performance [50]. Virtual training environ-
ments can easily display both forms of feedback to inform
patients about instant errors in task performance, moti-
vate patients in task learning, and reinforce previous gains
[50].
The application of Virtual Reality based task-oriented biofeedback
The major application of VR-based biofeedback to treat
sensorimotor deficits has focused on UE exercise. Prelim-
inary studies on VR based biofeedback for motor func-
tional recovery in neurally injured patients are promising.
Holden et al. [56] utilized VR to train reaching and hand
orientation in stroke patients. Patients saw a virtual mail-
box with different slot heights and orientations. To put
the "mail" into the slot, the patient must reach the slot
with correct hand orientation. A virtual "teacher mail"
demonstrated the motion for patients to imitate. In pre-
liminary findings, one of two stroke patients improved
their upper extremity Fugl-Meyer Test (FM) score and their
performance in a real mailing task. That patient was also
able to complete some functional activities that previ-
ously were impossible. No improvement was observed in
the other patient, however. Later, nine more participants
were recruited for further testing [82]. All participants
showed significant improvement in their FM score, the
Wolf Motor Function score (WMF), and selected strength
tests as compared to before the training. The study con-
tained no comparison control or alternative treatment
group, however. Also, the study provided no data or dis-
cussion on what parameters may affect the outcome. The
inconsistent results in one patient [56] suggest that a sin-
gle VR system design may not be effective for all stroke
survivors. Wann and Turnbull [5] developed game-like VR
based biofeedback programs to improve the amplitude
and direction control of arm movement kinematics in
eight adolescents with cerebral palsy. Each participant
received two training sessions: VR based biofeedback and
conventional occupational therapy, but in different
orders. The researchers reported results from only three of
the eight patients. In two patients with spastic diplegia,
the VR-based biofeedback made the UE movement
smoother than conventional therapy, as measured by the
number of velocity peaks of elbow trajectory. No obvious
benefit from VR-based training was observed in the third
patient, who had severe athetosis. In studies investigating
VR-based biofeedback for hand function rehabilitation in
stroke survivors, investigators used multisensing data
from the Cyberglove, which sensed finger joint angles, or
the RMII glove, which measured both the applied force
under each finger and the position of the fingertips
[69,90]. Different scenarios were designed for exercises to
improve joint range of motion, finger fractionation, and
grasp strength on the impaired hand. Patients improved
grasping force, finger joint range of motion, and move-
ment speed after two weeks of VR-based biofeedback ther-
apy [90]. Moreover, three participants showed an
improvement on the Jebsen hand functional test [69].
This study focused on training of grasping movement and
force, however, while the major impairment to hand func-
tion in stroke survivors is motor incapability for hand
opening (extension of metacarpophalangeal joints) and
wrist extension. In addition, pathological grasping, as
seen in the tonic grasp reflex, for example, is common in
brain injured patients. They may grasp the object tightly
with finger flexion and adduction of thumb but then can-
not release the object [99]. To improve the effectiveness of
hand functional recovery in patients with brain injury,
future designs of VR based biofeedback should emphasize
motor tasks that encourage hand opening and wrist exten-
sion rather than retraining hand closure.
The number of reported VR-based biofeedback studies on
LE motor function is relatively small at present, possibly
due to the technical challenge of how to process a multi-
tude of information and then present it to the patient. LE
functional retraining depends not only on lower-limb
mobility and bilateral coordination, but also requires
other motor skills, such as balance control. A recent study
used a video camera to track stroke patients' 2D motion
and then fed back the motion by directly projecting and
integrating the patient's image into a 2D game-like VR
(IREX System, Toronto, ON, Canada) [100]. The experi-
mental group included five stroke survivors. Each played
three VR games with the goal of training LE range of
motion, balance, mobility, stepping, and ambulation
skills. KR and KP, such as error rate or movement quality,
were quantified and indicated on the screen at the end of
each game. The control group, also five stroke patients,
did not receive any intervention. The experimental group
significantly improved motor function in the LE and sig-
nificantly increased activity in the primary sensorimotor
cortex as determined by functional MRI data [100]. The
investigators concluded that VR may have contributed to
positive changes in neural reorganization and associated
functional ambulation.
One inherent limitation of biofeedback therapy is that
patients with more severe motor deficits cannot partici-
pate due to an inability to initiate any functional move-
ment, thus preventing utilization of biofeedback for
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improving performance. Rehabilitation robots or other
devices could solve the problem by providing mechanical
assistance for movement.
Active research and development designs for robotic-
focused UE or LE motor rehabilitation exist [101-105].
Several research groups have built robots with biofeed-
back features. One study used a robotic end-effector to
help patients with stroke move their arms while receiving
real-time feedback of endpoint position [79]. The robot
could produce the force needed to correct the participant's
hand position when it was out of the appropriate range.
In gait training with Lokomat
®
, which can predefine the
pattern of LE kinematics, estimation of self-generated
joint torques is fed back. This provides information about
the walking effort and motivates the patient to produce
better gait patterns [106]. The combination of rehabilita-
tion robot assisted therapy with advanced biofeedback is
such an attractive approach for sensorimotor rehabilita-
tion that we anticipate many new studies will forthcom-
ing.
Other techniques
Advanced technical developments in communication,
including wireless vehicles and Internet use, have the
potential to permit implementation of task-oriented bio-
feedback anytime and anywhere, thus enabling telereha-
bilitation. Jovanov et al. designed a wireless body area
network that connects data from multiple sensors on the
body to a personal server such as a cell phone or personal
digital assistant (PDA) [66]. This data could be sent to
other computers through a wireless network. The
researchers suggested that this equipment could be used
to provide biofeedback during ambulatory settings and to
monitor trends during recovery. Another study presented
an in-home biofeedback system in which many patients
could access the same server via a telemedicine network.
The VR based biofeedback training program could be cus-
tomized to each participant, and retraining could then be
performed using a personal computer at home [73]. Each
provider would need many clients to establish a database
and to keep records for each client efficiently while con-
currently generating customizable training protocols to fit
individual requirements [73]. The database would also be
accessible to clinicians for evaluation of patient compli-
ance and improvement. All these technological develop-
ments allow us to foresee the prevalence of task-oriented
biofeedback applications in neurorehabilitation.
Further considerations for task-oriented
biofeedback
In the future, researchers should carefully choose the
applied sensors and assign necessary biofeedback indexes
in task-oriented biofeedback training. On one hand, the
system should incorporate sufficient numbers and types
of sensors to accurately detect the state of dynamic varia-
bles during movement. On the other hand, many cata-
strophically injured patients requiring physical therapy
also have impaired perceptual and cognitive abilities.
Therefore, it is important to develop an information
fusion algorithm and to carefully design intuitive forms of
feeding back integrated sensor information to avoid over-
loading patients' perceptions. In general, investigators
should determine the factors contributing to motor defi-
cits in each patient diagnostic group, establish training
goals, explore the parameters that characterize functional
movement, and then limit the number of feedback
sources within the dynamic biofeedback paradigm.
The key ingredients for motor functional recovery are the
intensity of task training and the patient's active involve-
ment during the therapy [61]. Task-oriented biofeedback
therapy and robot or other assistive device aided repetitive
task practice should be more effective because this inte-
grated sensorimotor therapy would provide patients with
motor deficits an opportunity to actively and repetitively
practice a task [79,107]. VR based displays could also
increase the motivation and attention of patients in the
task training, improve sensorimotor integration through
multimodal augmented feedback, and, consequently,
improve training efficiency. Therefore, comparing the
effects of robot-aided therapy with task-oriented biofeed-
back intervention to conventional therapy for enhance-
ment of motor function could be enlightening.
The application of virtual reality among patients with
neuropathology is limited, however. VR-based biofeed-
back therapy requires that the patient demonstrate preser-
vation of some auditory and/or cognitive ability or
possess reasonable visual field perception. A certain level
of movement control is also necessary to carry out tasks in
the virtual environment. Immersive visual interfaces have
been reported to increase the risk of seizure occurrence in
patients with a history of epilepsy [108]. Pre-screening of
participants should be performed based on clearly
defined inclusion/exclusion criteria.
The most challenging question for all VR studies is
whether the effect of VR training is transferable to task per-
formance in the real world. If this transition cannot be
acquired, VR may not be applicable in motor rehabilita-
tion. Further evidence is needed to effectively address this
question. Additionally, therapeutic goals from VR based
studies need to be clinically and functionally relevant to
be credible. For example, flexor spasticity develops in the
hemiplegic hands and wrists of most patients with brain
injuries [109]. Therefore, difficulties in opening the meta-
carpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints and extend-
ing the wrist are the relevant clinical problems, not the
ability to close the hand for grasping, as one previous
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2006, 3:11 http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/3/1/11
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study attempted to correct [67,86]. Another problem with
grasping task performance is that patients with brain inju-
ries may have difficulty releasing objects due to uninhib-
ited grasp reflexes [99]. Failure to release the grasped
object during repetitive task training usually frustrates
patients and may adversely impact motivation. Virtual
reality offers an opportunity for patients to practice hand
opening to release objects without haptic sensation,
which avoids the tonic grasp reflex. Therefore, aVR based
biofeedback system that trains patients to grasp and
release virtual objects without haptic feedback may be
effective to enhance the mobility of the hand, increase the
active range of motion in metacarpophalangeal, inter-
phalangeal and wrist joints, and motivate patients to prac-
tice hand opening activities in the early stages of the
intervention. When patients regain active control of hand
movement, haptic feedback could be added to the VR to
enhance learning and interaction with the environment.
Preliminary results of clinical tests have demonstrated the
benefits of task-oriented biofeedback on motor functional
recovery [26,29,69,82,100]. However, these studies lack
strong evidence. The number of patients in each study is
small. Some reported benefits from task-oriented biofeed-
back were not consistently observed among all subjects
[56]. Moreover, some of the applied technologies are
immature. Clearly, future work should focus on tech-
niques to enhance and ultimately foster RCTs directed
toward task-oriented biofeedback applications. These
RCTs should then use comprehensive statistical analyses
to further prove and quantify the efficacy of task-oriented
biofeedback for functional motor recovery.
Conclusion
This article reviewed recent developments in biofeedback
concepts, technologies, and applications. New technology
propels the application of diverse biofeedback therapy
options within the context of functional training to
improve motor control among neurorehabilitation
patients. Promising techniques for task-oriented biofeed-
back study, both developed and proposed, were summa-
rized. Some preliminary clinical tests offer encouraging
results. However, these techniques are relatively new, so
there is a dearth of clinical RCTs available to definitively
prove the efficacy of using contemporary technologies for
task-oriented biofeedback within the field of neuroreha-
bilitation. Further studies are needed.
Abbreviations
UE: Upper ExtremityLE: Lower Extremity
IME: Interactive Multimodal environment
EMG: Electromyogram
CT: Conventional Therapy
ADL: Activities of Daily Living
RCT: Randomized Controlled Trial
VR: Virtual Reality
HMD: Head Mounted Display
DOF: Degree of Freedom
KP: Knowledge of Performance
KR: Knowledge of Result
FM: Fugl-Meyer Test
WMF: Wolf-Motor Functional Score
PDA: Personal Digital Assistant
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to express their appreciation for the input provided
through many fruitful discussions with Thanassis Rikakis, Todd Ingalls,
Loren Olson and Gang Qian and their practical implementation of an
immersive multimedia based rehabilitation environment, and valuable com-
ments from Dr. Doug Stuart to improve the manuscript. We would also
like to thank anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
The work is supported in part by a grant from NICHD/NIBIB N01-HD 3-
3353, a grant from NSFC 60340420431, both to JH, and in part by the Arts,
Media and Engineering program at Arizona State University.
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... The biofeedback is instead a well-established technique in physical rehabilitation, which aims to improve treatment outcomes by educating and engaging patients (Fernando & Basmajian, 1978). It involves providing an individual with additional information (feedback) on a physiological parameter, allowing the individual to influence the physiological parameter based on this feedback (Frank et al., 2010;Huang et al., 2006). In this field, a digital biofeedback system (DBS) consists of an input sensor, a data-processing system, and an output device, which displays the feedback. ...
... In this field, a digital biofeedback system (DBS) consists of an input sensor, a data-processing system, and an output device, which displays the feedback. DBSs have been shown to effectively improve motor learning, engagement with and adherence to rehabilitation in patients with musculoskeletal, neurological and orthopedic diseases (Giggins et al., 2013;Huang et al., 2006;Storberget et al., 2017). ...
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Neurological disorders are one of the most common causes of motor/cognitive impairments leading to adult disability. Neurorehabilitation is defined as a complex rehabilitation process directed to recovery from a nervous system injury, and to minimize or compensate the associated functional limitations. The frequent incomplete recovery of the neurological patients induces to the introduction of novel neurorehabilitative treatments, tailored to the patients, targeting the specific motor or cognitive disorders. The aim of this chapter is to bring together the latest findings on new technologies including virtual reality across the multiple research fields of rehabilitation in neurological disorders, mapping key developments and innovations such as telerehabilitation systems.
... Using electromyographic (EMG) activity as biofeedback to promote upper limb rehabilitation has been explored in the past. For instance, the EMG biofeedback can indeed improve volitional activation of the hand muscles, and restore the hand function in persons with severe hand impairment due to chronic stroke (Wolf 1983;Moreland et al. 1994;Huang et al. 2006;Cordo et al. 2013). Similarly, experimental studies showed that this kind of biofeedback helps the modulation of myoelectric signals and thereby promotes the generation of more consistent commands for myoelectric prostheses, improving the quality of force control both in routine grasping and force steering tasks (Dosen et al. 2015b;Shehata et al. 2018b, a). ...
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Electrotactile stimulation has been commonly used in human–machine interfaces to provide feedback to the user, thereby closing the control loop and improving performance. The encoding approach, which defines the mapping of the feedback information into stimulation profiles, is a critical component of an electrotactile interface. Ideally, the encoding will provide a high-fidelity representation of the feedback variable while being easy to perceive and interpret by the subject. In the present study, we performed a closed-loop experiment wherein discrete and continuous coding schemes are combined to exploit the benefits of both techniques. Subjects performed a muscle activation-matching task relying solely on electrotactile feedback representing the generated myoelectric signal (EMG). In particular, we investigated the performance of two different coding schemes (spatial and spatial combined with frequency) at two feedback resolutions (low: 3 and high: 5 intervals). In both schemes, the stimulation electrodes were placed circumferentially around the upper arm. The magnitude of the normalized EMG was divided into intervals, and each electrode was associated with one interval. When the generated EMG entered one of the intervals, the associated electrode started stimulating. In the combined encoding, the additional frequency modulation of the active electrode also indicated the momentary magnitude of the signal within the interval. The results showed that combined coding decreased the undershooting rate, variability and absolute deviation when the resolution was low but not when the resolution was high, where it actually worsened the performance. This demonstrates that combined coding can improve the effectiveness of EMG feedback, but that this effect is limited by the intrinsic variability of myoelectric control. Our findings, therefore, provide important insights as well as elucidate limitations of the information encoding methods when using electrotactile stimulation to convey a feedback signal characterized by high variability (EMG biofeedback).
... SA devices for balance and coordination training applications typically include sensors and a feedback display to provide body-motion cues [37]. Wearable sensors, such as inertial measurement units (IMUs) [38][39][40], pressure insoles [40] and electromyography (EMG) sensors [41], have previously been used in balance training studies. IMUs are particularly well suited for sensory-augmented balance and coordination training, since they are widely integrated into wearable or portable wireless devices, such as smartwatches and phones. ...
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Intensive balance and coordination training is the mainstay of treatment for symptoms of impaired balance and mobility in individuals with hereditary cerebellar ataxia. In this study, we compared the effects of home-based balance and coordination training with and without vibrotactile SA for individuals with hereditary cerebellar ataxia. Ten participants (five males, five females; 47 ± 12 years) with inherited forms of cerebellar ataxia were recruited to participate in a 12-week crossover study during which they completed two six-week blocks of balance and coordination training with and without vibrotactile SA. Participants were instructed to perform balance and coordination exercises five times per week using smartphone balance trainers that provided written, graphic, and video guidance and measured trunk sway. The pre-, per-, and post-training performance were assessed using the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA), SARAposture&gait sub-scores, Dynamic Gait Index, modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance, Timed Up and Go performed with and without a cup of water, and multiple kinematic measures of postural sway measured with a single inertial measurement unit placed on the participants’ trunks. To explore the effects of training with and without vibrotactile SA, we compared the changes in performance achieved after participants completed each six-week block of training. Among the seven participants who completed both blocks of training, the change in the SARA scores and SARAposture&gait sub-scores following training with vibrotactile SA was not significantly different from the change achieved following training without SA (p>0.05). However, a trend toward improved SARA scores and SARAposture&gait sub-scores was observed following training with vibrotactile SA; compared to their pre-vibrotacile SA training scores, participants significantly improved their SARA scores (mean=−1.21, p=0.02) and SARAposture&gait sub-scores (mean=−1.00, p=0.01). In contrast, no significant changes in SARAposture&gait sub-scores were observed following the six weeks of training without SA compared to their pre-training scores immediately preceding the training block without vibrotactile SA (p>0.05). No significant changes in trunk kinematic sway parameters were observed as a result of training (p>0.05). Based on the findings from this preliminary study, balance and coordination training improved the participants’ motor performance, as captured through the SARA. Vibrotactile SA may be a beneficial addition to training regimens for individuals with hereditary cerebellar ataxia, but additional research with larger sample sizes is needed to assess the significance and generalizability of these findings.
... It was observed that when stimulation was applied to the peripheral part, several parts of the cerebral cortex were activated [36]. As such, tactile biofeedback training applied to patients with stroke can be used as a valid tool for physical therapists [39]. Recently, vibrotactile biofeedback has been used to improve gait symmetry training in patients with stroke with hemiplegia, which supported our findings [40]. ...
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Training with visual and auditory biofeedback, in patients with stroke, improved balance ability and asymmetric posture. We developed a new biofeedback training device to prevent falls and improve balance ability in patients with stroke. This device corrects motion errors by collecting the pressure information of patients in real-time. This randomized crossover study aimed to investigate the effect of this biofeedback training on the static balance ability and weight distribution symmetry index in 24 patients with chronic stroke. Pressure sensor-based vibrotactile biofeedback, visual biofeedback providing posture information, and standing without biofeedback were randomly applied for 1 d each with 24 h washout intervals to minimize adaptation. The static balance ability was measured for each biofeedback training type, and the weight distribution symmetry index was calculated using the collected weight-bearing rate data. The static balance ability and weight distribution symmetry index differed significantly according to the type of biofeedback training used. Post-hoc analysis revealed significant differences in the order of newly developed vibrotactile biofeedback, visual biofeedback, and standing without biofeedback. These findings provide evidence that pressure sensor-based vibrotactile biofeedback improves static balance ability and weight support rates by proposing better intervention for patients with chronic stroke in the clinical environment.
... Vision and proprioception are predominant in the perception of spatial information, while hearing is useful in the perception of temporal information related to the periodicity, regularity, and speed of motion. As for augmented somesthetic feedback (e.g., tactile, haptic), it offers both spatial and temporal information, and above all, motor information by directly influencing the orientation or the force of the movement (e.g., force feedback) and reducing trajectory errors (123,136,152,153). Virtual reality and/or soft robotic gloves might be more beneficial for specific lesion types or deficits. ...
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Reduced hand dexterity is a common component of sensorimotor impairments for individuals after stroke. To improve hand function, innovative rehabilitation interventions are constantly developed and tested. In this context, technology-based interventions for hand rehabilitation have been emerging rapidly. This paper offers an overview of basic knowledge on post lesion plasticity and sensorimotor integration processes in the context of augmented feedback and new rehabilitation technologies, in particular virtual reality and soft robotic gloves. We also discuss some factors to consider related to the incorporation of augmented feedback in the development of technology-based interventions in rehabilitation. This includes factors related to feedback delivery parameter design, task complexity and heterogeneity of sensory deficits in individuals affected by a stroke. In spite of the current limitations in our understanding of the mechanisms involved when using new rehabilitation technologies, the multimodal augmented feedback approach appears promising and may provide meaningful ways to optimize recovery after stroke. Moving forward, we argue that comparative studies allowing stratification of the augmented feedback delivery parameters based upon different biomarkers, lesion characteristics or impairments should be advocated (e.g., injured hemisphere, lesion location, lesion volume, sensorimotor impairments). Ultimately, we envision that treatment design should combine augmented feedback of multiple modalities, carefully adapted to the specific condition of the individuals affected by a stroke and that evolves along with recovery. This would better align with the new trend in stroke rehabilitation which challenges the popular idea of the existence of an ultimate good-for-all intervention.
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The effectiveness of sensory substitution technology, such as haptic-based vibrotactile biofeedback (VBF), has been verified for balance training and rehabilitation. However, whether BF training changes postural dynamics in older people remains unknown. This study investigated the influence of VBF training on postural dynamics during single-leg standing in older adults, using detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA). Twenty older adults participated in this study. Measurement of postural sway comprised three phases: first measurement session as a baseline test, postural training (day 1), and second measurement session (day 2). The BF group received BF training during the balance training session, while the control group practiced single-leg stance without BF. The center of pressure (CoP) trajectory was recorded in the first measurement session (pre) and second measurement session (post) at 50 Hz. DFA revealed the presence of two linear scaling regions in the CoP, indicating the presence of fast- and slow-scale fluctuations. For the BF group, slow-scale postural dynamics revealed more anti-persistent behavior after training in the anterior-posterior direction. However, the control group showed a change toward more random dynamics after training. These different influences suggest that the BF system might improve error correction strategies during single-leg standing for older adults, while single-leg standing training without the BF system might cause the loss of controllability in single-leg standing. Further, the results of the DFA are discussed in the context of balance training using VBF.
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Background Biofeedback has been used by rehabilitation professionals in the treatment of poststroke function impairments. Purpose Investigate the efficacy of any type of biofeedback intervention for the treatment of upper limb function in individuals following stroke. Study Design Systematic review of literature with meta-analysis. Methods Literature searches were conducted using MESH terms and text words in PubMed, Lilacs, Scielo, Scopus, PEDro, and Web of Science databases. The main outcome was improvement in upper limb's motor function and motor function in activities of daily living. We calculated the Mean Difference and Standardized Mean Difference for the assessment scales reported as primary outcome. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed using PEDro scale. The overall quality of the evidence was assessed using GRADE system. Results From 1360 articles identified, 16 were included in the review (09 in the meta-analysis). Three forest plots of hemiparesis and one of hemiplegia showed that biofeedback therapy associated with conventional therapy has a greater improvement in participants upper limb motor function when compared to isolated conventional therapy. Two forest plots of hemiparesis and one of hemiplegia showed no superiority in participants improvement for biofeedback associated with conventional therapy when compared to isolated conventional therapy. Conclusion Biofeedback therapy associated with conventional therapy showed a small clinical effect when associated to conventional therapy and very low quality of evidence. Although further research with higher quality evidence is needed.
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Background Recent technological advances in integrated circuits, wireless communications, and physiological sensing allow miniature, lightweight, ultra-low power, intelligent monitoring devices. A number of these devices can be integrated into a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN), a new enabling technology for health monitoring. Methods Using off-the-shelf wireless sensors we designed a prototype WBAN which features a standard ZigBee compliant radio and a common set of physiological, kinetic, and environmental sensors. Results We introduce a multi-tier telemedicine system and describe how we optimized our prototype WBAN implementation for computer-assisted physical rehabilitation applications and ambulatory monitoring. The system performs real-time analysis of sensors' data, provides guidance and feedback to the user, and can generate warnings based on the user's state, level of activity, and environmental conditions. In addition, all recorded information can be transferred to medical servers via the Internet and seamlessly integrated into the user's electronic medical record and research databases. Conclusion WBANs promise inexpensive, unobtrusive, and unsupervised ambulatory monitoring during normal daily activities for prolonged periods of time. To make this technology ubiquitous and affordable, a number of challenging issues should be resolved, such as system design, configuration and customization, seamless integration, standardization, further utilization of common off-the-shelf components, security and privacy, and social issues.
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Reflex epilepsy of the visual system is charecterised by seizures precipitated by visual stimuli. EEC responses to intermittent photic stimulation depend on the age and sex of the subject and on how stimulation is performed: abnormalities:are commonest in children and adolescents, especially girls. Only generalised paroxysmal epileptiform discharges are clearly linked to epilepsy. Abnormal responses may occur in asymptomatic subjects, especially children. Photosensitivity has an important genetic component. Some patients are sensitive to patterns, suggesting an occipital trigger for these events. Myoclonus and generalised convulsive and nonconvulsive seizures may be triggered by visual stimuli. Partial seizures occur less often and can be confused with migraine. Although usually idiopathic, photosensitive epilepsy may occur in degenerative diseases and some patients with photosensitive partial seizures have brain lesions. Sunlight and video screens, including television, video games, and computer displays, are the commonest environmental triggers of photosensitive seizures. Outbreaks of triggered seizures have occurred when certain flashing or patterned images have been broadcast. There are regulations to prevent this in some countries only. Pure photosensitive epilepsy has a good prognosis. There is a role for treatment with and without antiepileptic drugs, but photosensitivity usually does not disappear spontaneously, and then typically in the third decade.