In robotic therapy, movements are visualized in Virtual Environments (VEs) that offer the possibility to simulate different real or imaginary activities of daily living that can be adapted to the patients’ needs, while providing a motivating environment. During conventional robotic neurorehabilitation, the VE is displayed on a flat-screen, and patients interact via a symbolic virtual representation of their limb (e.g., a cursor). However, over half of stroke survivors suffer from cognitive impairments that might limit their ability to play current symbolic and abstract games on flat screens developed for robotic rehabilitation practice.
Low-cost Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) are now widely available, offering the possibility to provide a realistic virtual representation of the patient’s own limbs (avatar) at a first-person perspective that, in immersive VR, offers a much higher probability of embodiment than computer screens. During this PhD, you will develop and exploit more naturalistic and cognitively engaging VEs. You will explore the potential of immersive VR using head-mounted displays to enhance neuroplasticity by modulating participants’ body ownership over virtual avatars. You will further evaluate whether participants' cognitive load can be modulated by varying the complexity of the immersive VE.
In this project, you will collaborate closely with our clinical partners at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam in the design concept and will evaluate the new technology in patients with brain injuries.
In the Human-Robot Interaction group, we work on neurorehabilitation robotics, cognitive human-robot interaction, and physical Human-Robot Interaction. Strong collaborations exist with cross-faculty institutes (TU Delft Robotics Institute and TU Delft Transport Institute), our national robotic ecosystem (RoboValley, Holland Robotics), Clinical partners (Erasmus MC), and international industry and academia.
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