Combining Somatosensory Stimulation with Robotic Training to enhance Neurorehabilitation

Making Sense: a touch sensibility training game. Copyright Adrian Moser @Artorg

The injury to the brain caused by a stroke can lead to sensory impairments like reduced sense of touch, temperature, and proprioception (sense movement, action, and location). Unfortunately, sensory training is not the standard of care in robotic neurorehabilitation, which has focused mostly on movements via motor functions.

In this project, we developed a sensory tasks that train and assess the users' sensory capabilities. We employed technics as haptic rendering, the creation of reaction forces between the virtual tool being manipulated by the user and the physics-based object, and combined with sensory discrimination methods to recreate a virtual environment. We used this approach to enhance and evaluate patients' touch discrimination. We deployed a robotic virtual task that consists of discriminating the "odd texture" among three visually identical textures, either with active (free-exploration) or passive (robotic guidance) exploration.

In the first experiment with 36 healthy participants, participants significantly enhanced their touch discrimination during active and passive exploration after training. In future experiments, we plan to combine our sensory discrimination task with somatosensory electrical stimulation to enhance the discrimination of virtual textures.

Interested in the Project? Contact: Eduardo Villar Ortega


  • Initiator Grant - University of Bern

  • SENACYT and IFARHU - Panamenian Goverment


  • E. V. Ortega, E. Anil Aksöz, K. A. Buetler and L. Marchal-Crespo, "Assessing Touch Sensibility with a Robotic System for Sensory Rehabilitation," 2021 IEEE World Haptics Conference (WHC), 2021, pp. 336-336, doi: 10.1109/WHC49131.2021.9517218.