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Neurorehabilitation can be looked at as a strategic research field because of its tight interconnections with topics of great economic and social relevance, such as healthy and active ageing, wellbeing and the social inclusion of people with disabilities.

The introduction of innovative materials and technologies in this field is leading to a better and more sustainable management of care. In particular, the development of solutions employing optimised and customised properties for materials with functional and/or nonlinear characteristics makes it possible to address complex neuromotor disorders in a personalised manner, interacting dinamically with different patients during the evolution of their clinical status.

Our activity in this field includes researching materials, technologies and methods that can improve the current approach to the treatment of neurologic, motor and muscular disorders. This is done by combining the tools of Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering.

  • Fig. 1. Design and fabrication of passive (left) and actuated (right) devices for neurorehabilitation.
  • Fig. 2. Characterisation and optimisation of the properties of functional materials and components.

In our lab, we set up a pipeline covering:

  • the neuro-mechanical design and modelling of active (actuated) systems, or passive ones (with spring or bias elements, etc.), to be used in the orthotic treatment of different neuro-musculo-skeletal diseases;
  • the characterisation and optimisation of materials and functional components by experimental methods or mathematical modelling;
  • the fabrication of prototypes with anatomically-compatible geometries (from bioimages) through 3D printing and/or the assembling of parts;
  • the development of wearable sensor networks to complement the functions of the orthotic devices;
  • the evaluation of prototypes in technical tests;
  • the collaboration with clinical partners during field studies and trials;
  • the analysis of data and signals collected during technical and clinical tests.
Fig. 3. Design optimisation by mathematical modelling.
Fig. 4. Development of rehabilitation devices by 3D printing from anatomical images.

Fig. 5. Wearable sensor systems to complement and monitor the functions of orthotic devices.
Fig. 6. Actuators and orthoses with low electromagnetic emissions for Neuroscience.

Our research produces scientific and technical knowledge and patented inventions, such as pseudoelastic hinges for repositioning orthoses (PCT/EP2011/002184) and amagnetic actuators compatible with diagnostic instrumentation like (f)MRI e MEG (PCT/EP2011/002385).
We enjoy ongoing collaborations with clinical institutions specialised in the treatment of neurologic disorders of the children and adults; research institutes for Exercise Physiology, Neuroscience, Materials Science & Technology, and Rehabilitation Robotics; and private enterprises working in the biomedical field, creating a link with the manufacturing sector.

Fig. 7. Collaborations with clinical centres for device trials.
Fig. 8. Analysis of data and signals collected during technical and clinical testing on our devices.

We also collaborate with the Academia for projects, seminars, and M.Sc. or Ph.D. theses.

Since 2004, we are partners or leaders in a number of research projects in the field of neurorehabilitation technologies, and we are actively engaged in the development of this sector in the Lecco area.

Three Research fellows are currently collaborating in this line of activity: Lorenzo Garavaglia (Biomedical Engineer, Ph.D. candidate), Fabio Lazzari (Electronic Engineer) and Jacopo Romanò (Biomedical Engineer).

    optimisation of shape memory optimisation of pseudoelasticity optimisation of damping customisation of functional properties actuators and mechatronic systems orthotics medical devices sensor networks signal analysis biomechanics

    • S Pittaccio, L Garavaglia, C Ceriotti, and F Passaretti
      Applications of Shape Memory Alloys for Neurology and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation
      Journal of Functional Biomaterials, 6(2015): 328-344.
    • L Garavaglia, E Molteni, E Beretta, E Vassena, S Strazzer, and S Pittaccio
      Pilot Study of the Cortical Correlates and Clinical Effects of Passive Ankle Mobilisation in Children with Upper Motorneuron Lesions
      In Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2015 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE, pp. 6614-6617. IEEE, 2015
    • S Pittaccio, L Garavaglia, S Viscuso, E Beretta, and S Strazzer
      Implementation, Testing and Pilot Clinical Evaluation of Superelastic Splints that Decrease Joint Stiffness
      Annals of biomedical engineering 41, no. 9 (2013): 2003-2017
    • S Pittaccio, F Zappasodi, G Tamburro, S Viscuso, L Marzetti, L Garavaglia, F Tecchio, and V Pizzella
      Passive ankle dorsiflexion by an automated device and the reactivity of the motor cortical network
      In Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2013 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE, pp. 6353-6356. IEEE, 2013
    • S Pittaccio, F Zappasodi, S Viscuso, F Mastrolilli, M Ercolani, F Passarelli, F Molteni, S Besseghini, PM Rossini, and F Tecchio
      Primary sensory and motor cortex activities during voluntary and passive ankle mobilization by the SHADE orthosis
      Human brain mapping 32, no. 1 (2011): 60-70

    • Hint@Lecco  (2004-2007)
    • Manufuture  (2009-2013)
    • PARS&C  (2010-2012, as project leader)
    • PRINAP  (2010-2014)
    • Spider@Lecco  (2009-2013)
    • Riprendo@Home  (2013-2015)
    • Think&Go  (2013-2016)