EMG-based visual-haptic biofeedback: a tool to improve motor control in children with primary dystonia

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2013 May;21(3):474-80. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2012.2222445. Epub 2012 Oct 5.


New insights suggest that dystonic motor impairments could also involve a deficit of sensory processing. In this framework, biofeedback, making covert physiological processes more overt, could be useful. The present work proposes an innovative integrated setup which provides the user with an electromyogram (EMG)-based visual-haptic biofeedback during upper limb movements (spiral tracking tasks), to test if augmented sensory feedbacks can induce motor control improvement in patients with primary dystonia. The ad hoc developed real-time control algorithm synchronizes the haptic loop with the EMG reading; the brachioradialis EMG values were used to modify visual and haptic features of the interface: the higher was the EMG level, the higher was the virtual table friction and the background color proportionally moved from green to red. From recordings on dystonic and healthy subjects, statistical results showed that biofeedback has a significant impact, correlated with the local impairment, on the dystonic muscular control. These tests pointed out the effectiveness of biofeedback paradigms in gaining a better specific-muscle voluntary motor control. The flexible tool developed here shows promising prospects of clinical applications and sensorimotor rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Child
  • Dystonia / diagnosis
  • Dystonia / physiopathology*
  • Dystonia / rehabilitation*
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Touch*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult