Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Sridhar Sunderam


Normal movement execution requires proper coupling of motor and sensory activation. An increasing body of literature supports the idea that incorporation of sensory stimulation into motor rehabilitation practices increases its effectiveness. Paired associative stimulation (PAS) studies, in which afferent and efferent pathways are activated in tandem, have brought attention to the importance of well-timed stimulation rather than non-associative (i.e., open-loop) activation. In patients with tetraplegia resulting from spinal cord injury (SCI), varying degrees of upper limb function may remain and could be harnessed for rehabilitation. Incorporating associative sensory stimulation coupled with self-paced motor training would be a means for supplementing sensory deficits and improving functional outcomes. In a motor rehabilitation setting, it seems plausible that sensory feedback stimulation in response to volitional movement execution (to the extent possible), which is not utilized in most PAS protocols, would produce greater benefits. This capability is developed and tested in the present study by implementing a brain-computer interface (BCI) to apply sensory stimulation synchronized with movement execution through the detection of movement intent in real time from electroencephalography (EEG). The results demonstrate that accurate sensory stimulation application in response to movement intent is feasible in SCI patients with chronic motor deficit and often precedes the onset of movement, which is deemed optimal by PAS investigations that do not involve a volitional movement task.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This work was supported in part by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant 1R21HD079747 and National Science Foundation grant 1539068.