Research in physical medicine and rehabilitation helps to extend what is possible. University of Michigan Rehabilitation Engineering Program works with individuals with physical disabilities to help maximize their potential through assistive technology accommodations. Purposeful physical movement, no matter how small, can be captured to operate technology and perform the individual's number one priority task. The University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface Project is developing practical brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to enable people who can not make even the smallest of physical movements to operate technology. Our brain-computer interface (BCI) uses electroencephalogram (EEG) signals from the scalp to allow someone to choose items from a grid. The items can be letters on a BCI-operated keyboard or angles for a wheelchair seating position. Through connecting BCIs to commercial assistive technology, we extend the realm of what is possible for people with physical impairments. Our research covers many aspects of improving BCI function and promotes the involvement of people with physical impairments in setting the priorities and operating standards for BCIs.
The University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface project is just one aspect of the clinical and basic research underway in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The knowledge that this research produces gives us an edge in creating new therapies and devices that improve the mobility, functionality and independence of persons with disabilities. Check out some of our exciting projects.