Assistive Technologies for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X chromosome-linked recessive neuromuscular disease, affecting mainly males and it is the most common and severe form of muscular Dystrophy. It is diagnosed in childhood and it affects approximately 1:5000 births. The population of people with DMD in the Netherlands was 420 at 2013. People with DMD suffer from progressive muscle weakness which leads to physical disability, high dependency from care-givers and shortened life expectancy.

Due to advances in health care over the past few years, life expectancy has been gradually increased and currently people with DMD reach the fourth decade. While their lifespan has increased, their upper extremity function remains limited, especially after the age of ten. People with DMD may live with impaired hand function for decades . Thus, unable to perform basic activities of daily living (ADL). People with DMD can greatly benefit from active assistive devices. 

To address this problem various projects started in the Netherlands, under the Flextension umbrella and in collaboration with the Duchenne Parent Project. We develop and test various techniques for the intention detection of people with DMD and their integration with active upper extremity assistive devices. We aim to translate these technologies to the users and that is why we aim for user centered developments both for the design of devices and the intention detection. We are also interested in the study of the hand function in general and especially in people with DMD.

Selected publications:

K. Nizamis, W. Schutte, J. Goseling, and B. F. J. M. Koopman, “Quantification of information transfer rate of the human hand during a mouse clicking task with healthy adults and one adult with Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” in 2017 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), July 2017, pp. 1227–1232.

J. Lobo-Prat, K. Nizamis, M. M. Janssen, A. Q. Keemink, P. H. Veltink, B. F. Koopman, and A. H. Stienen, “Comparison between semg and force as control interfaces to support planar arm movements in adults with duchenne: a feasibility study,” Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, vol. 14, no. 1, p. 73, Jul 2017.

Nizamis K, Lobo-Prat J, Keemink AQL, Carloni R, Stienen AHA, Koopman BFJM. Switching proportional EMG control of a 3d endpoint arm support for people with duchenne muscular dystrophy. In: 2015 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR). New York: IEEE: 2015. p. 235–40.