The research line Rehab Technologies - INAIL - IIT Lab (REHAB), led by its project Manager, dr Lorenzo De Michieli, is active at the IIT Central Research Laboratories in Morego (Genova), the main premises of Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). REHAB is a new initiative created in December 2013 through an agreement between IIT and INAIL to develop and realize new prosthetic, orthotic and rehabilitation devices of high technological impact.
Following an agreement with the “Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria (DEIB)” of the “Politecnico di Milano” REHAB is offering 1 PhD position at Politecnico di Milano Phd school of Bioengineering on the specific project “EMG-based control of lower limb prosthetic systems”. The PhD call is online and available at the Politecnico website for the additional calls of the 32nd cycle.
State of the art lower limb prosthetic systems are either totally passive, semi-active, or active. Each of these technologies performs differently and allows for different use. Passive systems are the simplest and cost effective, however their motion can be controlled by proper motion imparted by the user and their usability is limited due to the nature of the core technology employed. Semi-active (so-called “electronic”) prostheses, on the other hand, typically employ inertial sensors, force sensors and encoder to estimate the configuration of the user during gait, and use this information to properly control the mechanical impedance of the joint. Similar to semi-active technology, active prostheses are feedback controlled, and make use of similar sensing technology to detect the configuration of the user. This information is then processed by the control algorithm and delivered to the actuation stage to provide mechanical power to the joint to execute a diverse range of tasks. Typical sensing techniques, however, deliver only limited information about the state of the user.
We believe that adding information on the stump’s muscular activation of the user, during either the swing or stance phase, can substantially enrich the quality of the available information and lead to novel control strategies to improve the functionality of the prosthesis and provide a better understanding on the correct utilization of the aid. For example, the control system could determine the correct muscular activation and timing, or self-adjust the parameters of the device based on the health/strength conditions of the user. These data, in combination with classical sensing techniques explained above, could further be used to prevent falls and address related safety issues: the scenarios are multiple and broad.
The aim of this project is to develop novel control systems for lower limb prostheses which can integrate, through e.g. sensor fusion algorithms, information on the muscular activation of the user by means of EMG sensing, to improve the functionality of the device and address safety issues.
The projects will be a technological challenge in which IIT and an internationally recognized clinical partner will share resources, competencies and motivation to achieve excellent results transferable to the medical field.
Ideal candidates should be highly motivated students, with a solid background in biomedical engineering and feedback control, have an outstanding academic record, besides excellent communication skills in English, as well as ability to interact effectively with members of the research team.
In order to apply for these positions it is mandatory to refer to the procedures required by the Politecnico di Milano. The official notice and the procedure for admissions is available at this link.
Interested applicants must follow the admission instructions and, additionally, can submit their CV electronically, outlining experience, qualifications, list of publications, a statement of research interests & plans and the names of at least two referees to Matteo Laffranchi (firstname.lastname@example.org), Leonardo de Mattos (email@example.com) and Elena de Momi (firstname.lastname@example.org), submitting their CV and two possible contacts for a recommendation letter.
Until March 6th, 14:00 Italian time, candidates can apply online to the Politecnico di Milano PhD. (Application link)