In this year's International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC’14), a member of the Shibata-lab, Jimson Ngeo (2nd year PhD student), presented a study in the field of biosignal processing. The conference was held from August 26-30 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Here is a brief report from Mr. Ngeo:
The IEEE-EMBC conference is one of the biggest annual international conference that gathers the world's best and brightest biomedical engineers, medical doctors, students, and people in the field of medicine and biology.
This year’s theme was about “Discovering, Innovating, and Engineering Future Biomedicine”. The conference consisted of high-profile plenary/keynote lectures, workshops, and oral and poster presentations covering diverse topics from
cutting-edge biomedical research to clinical applications and biomedical education. Among all the topics covered, those in the field of biosignal processing, neuroprostheses, robotics, and studies in rehabilitation captured my interest the most.
The IEEE-EMBC conference is one among many conferences each year that members in our lab (Shibata-lab) actively participate in. In this year's event, I presented our study which is entitled "Estimation of Continuous Multi-DOF Finger Joint Kinematics from Surface EMG using a Multi-output Gaussian Process"in one of the poster sessions.
Every year, the event gathers experts and renowned researchers in the field of signal processing and rehabilitation. Luckily this year, we are happy to report that our work captured a lot of interests and received substantial feedbacks from various groups. Most comments were from fellow researchers, graduate students, engineers, including medical practitioners and therapists. The comments were diverse, and ranged from discussions in possible applications and machine learning methods to how our work can be ported and used in the actual clinical setting. To know more of our work, you can check out the paper that we have submitted for this conference*1
There were many plenary talks and invited sessions from renowned scientists and researchers who discussed about the current trends in their field. Some of the topics that covered some common interest with our lab include trends in computational intelligence in biosignal processing, in novel control systems for powered prostheses, and in human-machine interfaces that are used in rehabilitation. Dr. Hunter Peckham, for example, who is a distinguished professor and biomedical engineer from the Case Western Reserve University and Metrohealth Medical Center, discussed advances made in the use and development of neuroprostheses and implantable devices, which are now gaining grounds in the restoration of motor functions. He cited different successful clinical examples, such as patients with spinal cord injuries who have benefited from such systems, enabling them to gain more functionality and mobility (e.g. hand functions and bladder control). However, despite current advances, there are still more clinical challenges that has to be met before bringing such technologies to their full realization.
For this year's EMBC, I also attended a full-day workshop on Recovery Machines which was held in the Lurie Baldwin Auditorium in Northwestern University's Medical campus in Chicago. Although it was a meeting and progress report for the Machine Assisting Recovery from Stroke and Spinal cord injury for reintegration into Society (MARS3) program, I was lucky enough to be able to participate despite the limited slots available. The leaders of different research groups in the MARS3 program presented some of their latest results on how their developed machines (e.g. user interfaces, assistive robots and tools) have facilitated rehabilitation and recovery of functions among different patients. Some groups showed positive results and benefits of their clinical tests, while others showed equivocal results. Topics in this workshop included different advances and clinical results in robotic rehabilitation, virtual trainers for therapies, in-home monitoring and wearable sensors, and advancements in robotic neuroprostheses and exoskeletons. Finally, the workshop concluded with an open-campus visit to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where we were able to see and experience some of the latest devices and tools developed and discussed during the presentation (e.g. robot exoskeletons/prosthesis, smart wheelchairs, and robot assistive devices). At the same time, we were also able to interact with the doctors, therapists and real patients who have used the mentioned devices.
Overall, this year's IEEE-EMBC conference was very exciting. I was not only given the opportunity to present, but I was also able to listen to some of brightest minds in the community talk about the current problems and next trend in engineering in medicine and biology. I saw that many of the robotic rehabilitation equipment and robots mentioned in journals and conference papers are now actually widely being used in the clinical setting. This would surely open more doors and opportunities to answer new problems and research questions. This year's EMBC have raised the bar very high and have exceeded my expectation. I look forward to join the
conference in the following years.