Human Waves, a spin-off born from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Université de Mons (UMons), is developing products and services in neurotechnology adapted to solving health problems as well as helping athletes improve their performance and decrease their risk of injury.
Prof. Guy Chéron, in collaboration with his team of specialists, has established the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Movement Biomechanics (LNMB) at ULB. Team members of Human Waves include Dr. Paul Verbanck (psychiatry), Director of the department of the treatment for addiction at Brugman Hospital, Dr Bernard Dan (neuropediatry), Director of the department of “neuropediatrics” at the Reine Fabiola Children’s Hospital and Anne-Marie Clarinval, (M.S. in Biotechnology). Together, these four have co-founded Human Waves.
Thanks to the measurement of the brain and muscular activities and the ability to record movements 3-dimensionally, they can propose different products for different applications. From health and learning applications for the general public, mental patients or athletes to neuro-marketing and brain computer interface. For example, some of the innovative services they are developing help athletes to improve their performances and further develop their neuromuscular winning strategies. The services and products being created are based on the PAMDA paradigm (Perception, Attention, Memorization, Decision and Action). This paradigm has been analysed and developed during different European projects and two ESA (European Space Agency) projects (Neurocog and Neurospat), some of which are still running in the International Space Station. In Neurospat, the goal for the LNMB is to measure the effect of Gravitational Context on EEG Dynamics. This study of Spatial Cognition, Novelty Processing and Sensorimotor Integration is composed of two principal experimental tasks: Visual Orientation and Visuomotor Tracking, plus additional, standardized electroencephalogram (EEG) tasks performed as a means of assessing general effects of the space station environment on EEG signals.
Human Health and Learning
For various mental diseases, the analysis of the EEG is very complicated and takes a lot of time. The normal evoked potential measures the cerebral activity in response to a simple stimulus (the apparition of a light, of a sound). The EEG of the patient is not measured during real or virtual activity. For this matter, Human Waves is in the process of developing new diagnostic tools based on tests using the PAMDA paradigm. Such innovative technology, with the ability to measure the deviation of the mental waves, has allowed Human Waves to develop a Brain Waves “trainer” also called a neurofeedback trainer. Currently, they are in the process of developing a trainer for children and patients suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that could be on the market within 4 years. A disorder that represents between 3 to 5% of the children worldwide, this could prove to be exciting news for parents and others who are in search of an alternative to drugs and a multimodal approach.
From an athletic standpoint, Human Waves has created a new technology designed to improve an athlete’s overall performance. By measuring simultaneously brain and muscle activities (EEG and EMG) and recording the movement of the athlete, Human Waves provides a scientific approach that can actually increase one’s performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and help one to develop winning mental strategies, even personalize one’s training program. An example of how their services have been realised for the National Belgian Team of Hockey can be seen in the following link.
Keep in mind, this technology is aimed not only at the athletes of the sporting industry but also at; the coaches in order for them to customize the training so as to improve the neuromuscular strategy of the gesture and increase mental control of action; the recruitors in order to select players before any meeting on the basis of specific indicators of performance; the Managers or Clubs in order to objectively quantify the value and the potential of an athlete before hiring; and the talent scouts in order to assess the potential of a promising beginner.
Consequently, it’s important to note these tools are not just for sportsmen but may be applied and developed specifically for patients with various disabilities. For example, in the assessment of movement of the patient especially walking, which could be used to make an accurate diagnosis (topographic, functional and pathophysiological) of a motor disorder. Imagine a service that could allow one to assess and optimize the overall care of the patient by providing a program of physiotherapy and eventually achieving; orthoses or prostheses, intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin, surgery, the introduction of intrathecal baclofen pump, etc.
In addition, the general analysis of the movement of a particular patient can objectively evaluate the effects of various treatments. Although only a few examples have been mentioned above, one can clearly recognize the potential of this technology and the countless discoveries that remain when looking into the extraordinary and complex mind.
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