Sensory feedback for gait improvement in movement disorders patients

22.3.2016 10:00


Infotech Oulu Lecture Series


Time: 10:00 -11:00
Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Room: TS391

Lecturer: Professor Yoram Baram, Roy Matas / Winnipeg Chair in Biomedical Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

Abstract:  Prof. Yoram Baram review a treatment modality for movement disorders by sensory feedback. The natural closed-loop sensory-motor feedback system is imitated by a wearable virtual reality apparatus, employing body-mounted inertial sensors and responding dynamically to the patient’s own motion. Clinical trials have shown a significant gait improvement in patients with Parkinson’s disease using the apparatus. In contrast to open-loop devices, which impose constant-velocity visual cues in a “treadmill” fashion, or rhythmic auditory cues in a “metronome” fashion, requiring constant vigilance and attention strategies, and, in some cases, instigating freezing in Parkinson’s patients, the closed-loop device improved gait parameters and eliminated freezing in most patients, without side effects. Patients with multiple sclerosis, previous stroke, senile gait, and cerebral palsy using the device also improved their balance and gait substantially. Training with the device has produced a residual improvement, suggesting virtual sensory feedback for the treatment of neurological movement disorders.

Bio: Professor Yoram Baram of the Computer Science department at the Technion received the BSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Technion in 1972, the MSc degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT in 1974, and the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1976. Specializing in control theory, he spent the next two years working on airborne and marine control and navigation systems at the Analytic Sciences Corporation in Reading Massachusetts. In 1978 he returned to Israel and joined Tel Aviv University as a faculty member, and the Israel Aircraft Industry as a consultant. In 1983 he moved to the Technion. On sabbatical during 1986-1988, he was a Senior Research Associate of the National Research Council, designing optical navigation systems for low flying helicopters at the NASA Ames Research Center, where he continued to serve as a consultant for the next twenty years. Returning to Israel in 1988, he developed and taught the first courses in neural networks and machine learning at the Technion. Following a second sabbatical term as a Senior Research Associate of the National Research Council at NASA Ames, he presented the mathematical model of visual feedback in biological locomotion control, which was published in 1999. Employing the mathematical model, he developed a virtual reality apparatus for gait improvement in neurological patients, for which he was awarded a US patent in 2004. The effectiveness of the device in assisting gait and eliminating freezing in Parkinson’s disease patients was demonstrated in collaborative studies with Professor Judith Aharon-Peretz of the Technion Medical School in 2000-2002, and with Professors Alberto Espey and Fredy Revilla of the University of Cincinnati Medical School during sabbatical in 2006-2007. In 2005 he received the Research Award for Best Platform Presentation in the leading conference on multiple sclerosis CMSC, following joint work with Professor Ariel Miller of the Technion Medical school, published in 2006 in the leading journal Neurology. In 2006 he was appointed the incumbent of the Technion’s Roy Mattas/Winnipeg Chair in Biomedical Engineering. The effectiveness of the sensory feedback device in the improvement of gait in adults after brain stroke and in children with cerebral palsy was clinically tested and published in leading medical journals during 2007-2012. In 2009 he jointly founded with his son, Amir, Medi Gait Ltd., a company devoted to the development of technological aids for persons with neurological movement disorders. The creation of alternative neural pathways in the brain as a consequence of the sensory feedback device use was demonstrated in a study performed at the University of California, San Diego, and published in 2013. In 2015 and 2016 he was invited to deliver keynote lectures at the 2’nd Pan European Symposium on Multiple Sclerosis in Brussels, Belgium and at the 6th International Gait and Balance Symposium in Multiple Sclerosis: Sensory Contributions in Portland, Oregon, respectively. Professor Baram has supervised about thirty graduate students. In recent years he has been working on a mathematical theory of dynamics and information coding in neurobiological systems, and on cognitive resource allocation, serving as head of the Technion Center for Research in Intelligent Systems and as a consultant to the Israel Aircraft Industry.

More information: Heli Koskimäki

Last updated: 8.3.2016