Spotlight: Data Analytics & Rehabilitation Technology Group

The Data Analytics & Rehabilitation Technology (DART) group at LLUI

The DART group at LLUI works at the intersection of technology, neurorehabilitation, and data science. We develop, evaluate, and implement technological approaches to neurorehabilitation. Our ultimate aim is to understand individual rehabilitation trajectories of individuals post-stroke or with Parkinson’s Disease and to propose personalized rehabilitation interventions in terms of content and timing. For this, we are structured into 4 teams:

  • The Lower Limb Team (Dr. Aileen Naef): Develops novel therapeutic interventions for gait quality using real time biofeedback approaches.
  • The Upper Limb Team (Dr. Josef Schönhammer): Develops mobile assessment technologies and novel therapeutic interventions for upper limb movement quality using low-cost sensor systems. The team also works to understand cognitive-motor interaction during assessment and training.
  • The Real-World Data Team (Johannes Pohl): Develops technological monitoring systems to measure movement quality continuously throughout and beyond rehabilitation stays.
  • The DevOps & Data Team (Thomas Menard/Thomas Weikert): Builds an ecosystem of digital data collection tools (iAssessments) that can be deployed within and across clinics and home to create a holistic digital twin of patients throughout their rehabilitation trajectory. Creates models to predict rehabilitation trajectories and the effects of individual interventions.

What are the goals of the research group?

The main goal of the research group is to provide insight on how to optimise rehabilitation through personalisation. A given treatment does not work equally well for different individuals. Even within a single individual, a treatment can have vastly different effects depending on when it is applied. Through understanding how patients’ function develops over time (what we call a rehabilitation trajectory), it becomes possible to model and predict which intervention is most effective for whom and at which time point. This is only possible through significantly improving assessment and monitoring tools and applying advanced data models. Providing feedback to patients and clinicians and allowing them to make data-driven decisions about their therapy (what we call Long Loops) is a powerful tool for the future. Therefore, a large part of the group is dedicated to building and validating this data collection infrastructure.

In parallel, we endeavour to understand the active ingredients of upper and lower limb therapy interventions and tailor these to individual needs (what we call Short Loops), specifically through real-time biofeedback about movement performance.

In summary, both Long Loops and Short Loops contribute to improving therapy outcomes, improving therapy efficiency, making therapy location independent, and reducing therapy cost. All important components to address the upcoming financial and population challenges that are predicted to severely strain the current system of rehabilitation.

Who stands behind the Research Group?

The DART Lab has grown out of the cereneo Foundation, an NPO that was founded in 2017. We are an interdisciplinary team of talented young researchers who believe in the power of hard work and the magic of dedicated follow through. Directed by Dr. Chris Easthope Awai since 2019, each team is headed by an experienced researcher or engineer. We currently supervise a total of 9 PhD students and employ 4 research engineers. We are typically able to provide around 15 student opportunities on a rotating basis around the year in the areas of engineering, neuroscience, health sciences, and computer and data science.

What has the research group achieved so far?

The DART Lab typically publishes their research in field-leading scientific journals and has been involved in writing textbook chapters for university education. The lab is involved in many third-party funded collaboration projects nationally and internationally and plays a significant role in the SwissNeuroRehab project, which links rehabilitation clinics throughout Switzerland. We are tightly connected to the Competence Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Science (RESC) at ETH Zürich and our staff also teach in the newly developed ETH Major for Rehabilitation and Inclusion. We maintain close research collaborations with ETH technology labs, such as the Sensory-Motor-Systems Lab, Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, Spinal Cord Injury & Artificial Intelligence Lab, Laboratory for Movement Biomechanics, and Medical Data Science Lab, as well as international collaborations. Finally, multiple technologies that we have developed are at different stages of implementation in our clinical partner network, demonstrating a true technology transfer from research to clinical practice.

How does DART generate value through cooperations with clinical partners?

DART-Lab technologies are in use in many of our partner rehabilitation clinics through both the SwissNeuroRehab Program  as well as through the Competence Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Science (RESC) at ETH Zürich. We provide tools that allow rapid, reliable and precise capture of movement quantity and quality in clinical environments. Through DART data dashboards, we enable clinicians to delve into the details of each patient. Through the strong interaction between clinic and research, we continuously optimise data collection and data representation to correspond to partner requirements – along the way creating generalisable knowledge of clinical needs and implementation strategies.

DART also runs complex clinical trials, such as the Stimuloop, with research and clinical partners such as cereneo. Through this, we enable patients to access cutting edge neuroscience-inspired treatment protocols and technologies.

For more information about the Data Analytics & Rehabilitation Technology (DART) Lab, StimuLOOP, or any other of our many ongoing studies, please click here. For a clinical perspective on the integration of DART technologies, please click here.

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