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I2R BCI Team Receives the Top Prize at International Annual BCI Research Award.

Singapore, June 17, 2010 - (ACN Newswire) - The I2R Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) team led by Dr Guan Cuntai working jointly with medical doctors from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (Dr Karen Chua Sui Geok, Mr Christopher Kuah) and National Neuroscience Institute (Associate Professor Ang Beng Ti) wonthe Annual BCI Research Award for their project "Motor imagery-based Brain-Computer Interface robotic rehabilitation for stroke". The team had embarked on this project from April 2007 to Oct 2009.

The prize, worth USD$3,000, is to recognize outstanding and innovative research done in the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces. Each year, a renowned research laboratory is asked to judge the submitted projects and to award the prize. The jury consists of world-leading BCI experts recruited by theawarding laboratory.

The BCI award is donated by g.tec, a leading provider of BCI research equipment located in Austria. Out of 60 high quality submissions, the jury nominated the 10 top-ranked candidates, one of which was the I2R BCI project thatwon the award.

Stroke is the leading cause of severe disabilities in the developed world. Each year, there are around 15 million new stroke cases worldwide.

About 30% of stroke survivors need rehabilitation. Among these, upper limb weakness andloss of hand function are one of the most devastating types of disability. Despite optimal acute medical treatment and modern rehabilitation, 45% of the stroke patients do not achieve complete recovery of their bodily functions. In addition, 85% to90% of stroke survivors with upper limb impairment do not regain full functional use of their upper extremities.

Recently, robot aided rehabilitation has been clinically investigated worldwide to try to address these issues. Despite continuous improvement and progress in this area, there is a strong need for more effective and a target-specific approach to rehabilitation for stroke patients.

Given the recent progress in BCI technologies, there is an increased interest in applying it for stroke rehabilitation, as BCI provides a direct and real-time link between the human brain (in particular, cortical area) to the external device.

In this project (details at APPENDIX 1), the results are summarized as follows:

- There is evidence from this study to suggest that motor imagery rehabilitation for stroke using the BCI is as effective and comparable to robotic rehabilitation, while the BCI group needs much less intensity compared to robotic training (a factor of 6 folds).

- Stroke patients are able to use BCI to perform rehabilitation (from a pre-screening with 55 patients, around 89% of the patients are naive users who could operate BCI for the first time).

The project team has decided to donate the cash prize of USD$3,000 to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Rehabilitation Centre as a gesture of charity to support needy patients.

Professor Lye Kin Mun, Acting Executive Director said, "I wish to congratulate Dr Guan and his BCI project team for this achievement. I2R is proud that its developed technologies are able to compete with best of the best on a global platform. I am very happy that the team at I2R in collaboration with their partners has received this well deserved recognition from fellow researchers over the world. We will continue to look for opportunities for potential collaborations with other medical partners as well."

Dr Karen Chua Sui Geok, Senior Consultant, TTSH Rehabilitation Medicine said, "This international award gives the BCI and neurorehabilitation team, together with the patients who have contributed to research, very strong encouragement to continue the pioneering work in BCI- related applications for clinical rehabilitation. This award will also galvanize the team to work even harder to make the second project a success."

"We are very happy to emerge as winner for the BCI research award. This is recognition of our efforts and we believe continuous BCI developments will benefit more stroke patients in time to come," commented Associate Professor Ang Beng Ti, Consultant, Neurosurgery Department, NNI.

The second project, which targets an even more difficult problem of hand rehabilitation after stroke, has recently obtained ethical approval and will commence in Aug/Sept 2010 and will continue for 2 years till 2012.

Additional information on this year's BCI-Research award is available at


"Motor Imagery-based Brain-Computer Interface Robotic Rehabilitationfor Stroke"

Principal Investigators:

Technical: Cuntai Guan, PhD (PI) (I2R), Kai Keng Ang, PhD (co-PI) (I2R)

Medical: Karen Sui Geok Chua, MD (PI) (TTSH), Beng Ti Ang, MD (co-PI) (NNI)

Team Members:

Kok Soon Phua (I2R), Christopher Kuah(TTSH), Chuanchu Wang(I2R), Zheng Yang Chin(I2R), Haihong Zhang(I2R), Rongsheng Lin(I2R)

Clinical Trial:

It consists of a brain-computer interface and a robotic arm (MANUS from InMotion). The patient is asked to perform motor imagery (instead of movement, in order to prevent possible use of compensated movements due to mal-adaptation after stroke insult). Once BCI detects the motor imagery (with a technique developed in our group, which is the winning algorithm in BCI Competition IV 2008), it triggers the robotic arm to move patient's arm to a designated direction. The direction is randomly selected by the training programme.

A clinical trial (Registration number NCT00955838 in is then performed to assess the effects of the above system. As a reference, we also recruited patients to use MANUS alone for rehabilitation. 26 patients were recruited, and randomized into two groups (15 in MANUS group, 11 in BCI group). The protocol of the rehabilitation is summarized asfollows (both groups used the same protocol):

- Patients performed 4 weeks' rehabilitation training, 3 sessions per week, and each session lasted around 1 hour.

- Clinical evaluation was done at the beginning of the training (week 0), mid of the training (week 2), end of the training (week 4) and following-up assessment (week 12).

However, due to the nature of training process, patients in MANUS group performed 960 repetitions, while BCI group only performed 160 repetitions. There is a 1:6difference in intensity.


In this project, we evaluated the feasibility of using BCI for stroke rehabilitation. Some of the results are summarized as follows:

- There is evidence from this study to suggest that motor imagery rehabilitation for stroke using the BCI is as effective and comparable to robotic rehabilitation, while the BCI group needs much less intensity compared to robotic training (a factor of 6 folds).

- Stroke patients are able to use BCI to perform rehabilitation(we did a pre-screening with 55 patients; around 89% of the patients are naive users who could operate BCI for the first time).

- BCI based on automatic feature selection and band-pass filtering was proven to be reliable across various patients.

-The combination of BCI and robotic arm seems a feasible setup.

About Institute for Infocomm Research

The Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R - pronounced as i-squared-r) is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)family. Established in 2002, our mission is to be the globally preferred source of innovations in 'Interactive Secured Information, Content and Services Anytime Anywhere' through research by passionate people dedicated to Singapore's economic success. I2R performs R&D in information, communications and media (ICM) technologies to develop holistic solutions across the ICM value chain. Our research capabilities are in information technology, wireless and optical communication networks, interactive and digital media; signal processing and computing. We seek to be the infocomm and media value creator that keeps Singapore ahead. Website:

About Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Tan Tock Seng Hospital is an acute general hospital equipped with world-class medical facilities and an established reputation in the field of providing healthcare for the community. Established in 1844, TTSH has built on a tradition of compassion set by its founder, Mr Tan Tock Seng, to provideseamless and holistic healthcare services. TTSH is accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), in recognition of its world-class patient care and comprehensive range of high quality holistic healthcare services at its main hospital complex, Communicable Disease Centre (CDC), TTSH Rehabilitation Centre and specialist clinics. TTSH was restructured in 2000 to become part of the National Healthcare Group (NHG) that umbrellas 14 other medical institutions. For more information on TTSH, please visit

About National Neuroscience Institute (NNI)

The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) is the leading regional specialist centre for cutting edge treatment, education and research in the neurosciences. It offers over20 clinical subspecialties and treats a broad range of illnesses affecting the brain, spine, nerve and muscle. The NNI sees the most number of neurological cases in Singapore, providing clinical services to Singapore General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Changi General Hospital and Alexandra Hospital. For more information on NNI, please visit:

About Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences, and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and nine consortia & centre, which are located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their immediate vicinity. A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners. For more information about A*STAR, please visit

Source: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

Mr Andrew Yap
Manager, Corporate Communications
Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R)
DID: +65 6419 1143
Fax: +65 6466 7716

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Publication:ACN Newswire
Date:Jun 17, 2010
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