Neural activity modulations and motor recovery following brain-exoskeleton interface mediated stroke rehabilitation

Nikunj A. Bhagat, Nuray Yozbatiran, Jennifer L. Sullivan, Ruta Paranjape, Colin Losey, Zachary Hernandez, Zafer Keser, Robert Grossman, Gerard E. Francisco, Marcia K. O'Malley, Jose L. Contreras-Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Brain-machine interfaces (BMI) based on scalp EEG have the potential to promote cortical plasticity following stroke, which has been shown to improve motor recovery outcomes. However, the efficacy of BMI enabled robotic training for upper-limb recovery is seldom quantified using clinical, EEG-based, and kinematics-based metrics. Further, a movement related neural correlate that can predict the extent of motor recovery still remains elusive, which impedes the clinical translation of BMI-based stroke rehabilitation. To address above knowledge gaps, 10 chronic stroke individuals with stable baseline clinical scores were recruited to participate in 12 therapy sessions involving a BMI enabled powered exoskeleton for elbow training. On average, 132 ± 22 repetitions were performed per participant, per session. BMI accuracy across all sessions and subjects was 79 ± 18% with a false positives rate of 23 ± 20%. Post-training clinical assessments found that FMA for upper extremity and ARAT scores significantly improved over baseline by 3.92 ± 3.73 and 5.35 ± 4.62 points, respectively. Also, 80% participants (7 with moderate-mild impairment, 1 with severe impairment) achieved minimal clinically important difference (MCID: FMA-UE >5.2 or ARAT >5.7) during the course of the study. Kinematic measures indicate that, on average, participants’ movements became faster and smoother. Moreover, modulations in movement related cortical potentials, an EEG-based neural correlate measured contralateral to the impaired arm, were significantly correlated with ARAT scores (ρ = 0.72, p < 0.05) and marginally correlated with FMA-UE (ρ = 0.63, p = 0.051). This suggests higher activation of ipsi-lesional hemisphere post-intervention or inhibition of competing contra-lesional hemisphere, which may be evidence of neuroplasticity and cortical reorganization following BMI mediated rehabilitation therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102502
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Brain-machine interface
  • Clinical trial
  • Exoskeletons
  • Movement related cortical potentials
  • Stroke rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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