Background. Thus far, most of the brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) developed for motor rehabilitation used electroencephalographic signals to drive prostheses that support upper limb movement. Only few BCIs used hemodynamic signals or were designed to control lower extremity prostheses. Recent technological developments indicate that functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-BCI can be exploited in rehabilitation of lower limb movement due to its great usability and reduced sensitivity to head motion artifacts.
Objective. The aim of this proof of concept study was to assess whether hemodynamic signals underlying lower limb motor preparation in stroke patients can be reliably measured and classified.
Methods. fNIRS data were acquired during preparation of left and right hip movement in 7 chronic stroke patients.
Results. Single-trial analysis indicated that specific hemodynamic changes associated with left and right hip movement preparation can be measured with fNIRS. Linear discriminant analysis classification of totHB signal changes in the premotor cortex and/or posterior parietal cortex indicated above chance accuracy in discriminating paretic from nonparetic movement preparation trials in most of the tested patients.
Conclusion. The results provide first evidence that fNIRS can detect brain activity associated with single-trial lower limb motor preparation in stroke patients. These findings encourage further investigation of fNIRS suitability for BCI applications in rehabilitation of patients with lower limb motor impairment after stroke.