With the development of science and technology, various countries have carried out “brain planning” research. Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology is one of the important contents of the “brain plan”. The brain-computer interface acquires thinking information by decoding brain neural activity signals, and realizes direct communication between the human brain and the outside world.
Because the brain’s movement consciousness can be converted into the movement control command of the limbs, the brain-computer interface has shown great application prospects in the field of stroke rehabilitation, attracting many companies from home and abroad. Shanghai Niantong Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Niantong Intelligent) is one of them.
Niantong intelligently incubates in the electromechanical laboratory of Shanghai Jiaotong University, and is committed to the development, production and sales of limb rehabilitation equipment, in order to provide rehabilitation products and technical solutions for patients with limb dysfunction such as stroke patients and amputation patients. In June 2019, the eCon-Hand brain-external exoskeleton rehabilitation system developed by the company entered the clinical testing stage. At the same time, the CFDA registration certificate application for this product is also underway, and it is expected to enter hospitals at all levels.
Brain-computer interface: New World for stroke rehabilitation patients
In 2017, the data of the Health Planning Commission showed that the total number of stroke patients in China has reached 13 million, which is the country with the largest number of stroke patients in the world. Shu Xiaokang, the CTO of the intelligent mindset, said: “From the perspective of market demand, the market potential for rehabilitation of stroke patients is enormous.” The 25 major diseases treatment fees announced by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission are clearly given. The cost of treatment for stroke sequelae is 100,000-400,000 yuan. Therefore, the conservative estimate of the market for stroke rehabilitation will reach hundreds of billions of yuan.
Traditional rehabilitation methods rely on rehabilitation therapists for passive treatment. Passive treatment is time consuming and labor intensive, and the treatment is limited. Moreover, China’s rehabilitation medical resources are very limited, with an average of 1 rehabilitation therapist per 200,000 people, and in developed countries such as the United States, there are 5 rehabilitation therapists per 100,000 people. Shu Xiaokang mentioned: “The traditional passive rehabilitation treatment cycle is long and slow, and many patients choose to give up halfway because they do not see the hope of rehabilitation.”
According to a study published in Nature Communication, researchers at the Institute of Neurological Prosthetics and Bioengineering at the Lausanne Institute of Technology in Switzerland found that active rehabilitation techniques for brain-computer interfaces can be significantly, efficiently, and consistently compared to traditional treatments. To restore the motor function of patients with chronic stroke, and the intervention effect can be maintained for more than 12 months.
The emergence of brain-computer interface technology has brought a glimmer of hope to the scarce rehabilitation medical resources and stroke patients in China. Shu Xiaokang said: “In the past ten years, the brain-computer interface R&D team in the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore has reported the application effect of brain-computer interface in the field of stroke rehabilitation. A large number of data prove that the brain-computer interface can accelerate the recovery of motor function of stroke patients. “”
It is in this context that Niantong Intelligent has developed eCon-Hand brain-controlled exoskeleton equipment based on brain-computer interface technology.
Active rehabilitation equipment: promotes neurological remodeling in patients
The brain-computer interface system is divided into several major functional modules, which are a signal acquisition module, a signal analysis processing module, and a motion execution module. As a proactive rehabilitation device for brain-computer interface, eCon-Hand consists of two core components: brain electric cap and exoskeleton rehabilitation hand.
The brain cap is designed specifically for the motor function of stroke patients. The brainwave signals collected are mainly from the patient’s motor somatosensory area and are used to drive the upper limbs. Moreover, the device is equipped with a wireless data transmission module and an EEG data storage module, which can not only record and store the user’s brain wave dynamic change process for a long time, but also realize real-time analysis and decoding of the EEG signal for the brain-computer interface. Application development provides convenience.
The exoskeleton rehabilitation hand is mainly used to assist the stroke patients in hand function rehabilitation training. The wearer-designed design of the device is ergonomically shaped to fit the palms of different sizes. In addition, considering that the upper limb muscle strength of the stroke patient is weak, the overall weight of the exoskeleton rehabilitation hand of the intelligent design is only 310g, which greatly reduces the task burden of the patient during the rehabilitation training.
eCon-Hand brain-controlled exoskeleton rehabilitation system
The brain wave of the patient is collected through the brain electric cap, and the patient’s motion intention is analyzed, and the exoskeleton rehabilitation hand is used to assist the patient to perform the hand grasping training, and the whole training process is completely controlled by the patient’s autonomy. Shu Xiaokang said: “We found in the preliminary research process that relying on rehabilitation therapists for passive treatment, the patient’s participation is very low. Patients often chat, watch mobile phones, and sleep when they are treated. This method usually does not reach the ideal. The therapeutic effect.” eCon-Hand adopts the active rehabilitation treatment mode, which is beneficial to promote the neurological remodeling of the patient’s brain and obtain better rehabilitation effect.
“Under the same conditions, eCon-Hand will be about 50% cheaper than imported equipment.” Shu Xiaokang mentioned. In the early days, eCon-Hand will be used in rehabilitation or rehabilitation hospitals in major hospitals, and patients will be rehabilitated with the help of a therapist. With the improvement of related technologies and products, patients can take their products home by renting and other methods and train themselves.
The primary target population for eCon-Hand is stroke-induced hand dysfunction. Shu Xiaokang said: “Active rehabilitation technology based on brain-computer interface is a new type of rehabilitation treatment. At present, Niantong Intelligent is developing a series of active rehabilitation equipment for the recovery of upper limb joint and lower limb motor function.”
Mind Smart: Create an active rehabilitation device brand
In December 2016, Niantong Intelligent was established and completed the angel round financing. At present, the company’s products are undergoing registration of Class II medical device certificates.
Shu Xiaokang said: “The application of brain-computer interface in the field of rehabilitation is very broad. Any patients with limb disorders caused by central nervous system damage, such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, brain trauma, etc., can use brain-computer interface technology to carry out neurological function. Plastic to restore athletic function.”
Next, Niantong Intelligent will focus on promoting the concept of active rehabilitation, let more patients understand the advantages of active rehabilitation treatment mode, and use brain-computer interface technology to expand the product line and build an active rehabilitation device brand.