After nervous system injury one major goal of neurological rehabilitation is to recover sensorimotor function. For intact sensorimotor function proprioceptive information from the body’s periphery is known to be essential . Yet, the processing of proprioceptive signals is often compromised after traumatic brain injury and stroke, or it becomes increasingly impaired in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
This constitutes a major road block for neurorehabilitation. Because these patients are unable to use proprioceptive information, it impedes their learning or relearning of such basic functions like balance or the fine motor control of their hands. Thus, to regain motor control it is essential to reestablish the neural loops involved in sensorimotor integration and more specifically those devoted to proprioceptive-motor processing.
Within the framework of motor relearning and the restoration of motor function, the advent of robotic devices for neurorehabilitation affords new opportunities to aid and enhance the learning environment and to promote proprioception-based motor learning for patients affected by proprioceptive-motor dysfunction. Human-machine interfaces hold the great potential to promote their functional independence in a wide range of motor disabilities. This potential can be further enhanced by endowing such interfaces with the ability to deliver customized sensory stimuli that aid and enhance proprioceptive processing in humans. Although the next decade will see an increased use of robots in neurorehabilitation, there are still numerous issues that will require attention before such robots will see widespread use in clinical rehabilitation settings such as determining the optimal dosage and timing of such interventions for specific motor disease entities and identifying the underlying mechanisms of neuroplasticity and their limits.
The purpose of this interdisciplinary research topic is to provide a venue to discuss the current state of knowledge on proprioceptive dysfunction and its impact on motor behavior, to determine the relevant knowledge gaps and technological challenges, to identify the necessary lines of future research and, finally, to develop a framework of how new robotic rehabilitation techniques can help to overcome current barriers in treating patients who experience sensorimotor dysfunctions associated with proprioceptive loss.
To comprehensively cover this emergent interdisciplinary area, this Research Topic seeks contributions from experts with diverse backgrounds in biomedical, mechanical and control engineering, haptics, human movement science, neurology, neuroscience, physical therapy, physiology and psychology. To establish a full state-of-the-art of the research in and around this topic we welcome articles covering Original Research, Methods, Hypothesis & Theory and Reviews.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.
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