Human Centred Design of Assistive and Rehabilitation Devices (UG)

Module aims

The ageing population and the wish to improve life quality, as well as the economic pressure to work longer, require the development of intuitive and efficient assistive and rehabilitation devices. Rehabilitation technology illustrates the paradigm for emergent systems to work with humans. As exemplified by the iPhone, the success of such systems depends on an intuitive interface, an attractive design and game-like applications.

In this course, engineering students will learn to design rehabilitation systems and assistive devices, integrating mechatronics, human factors and computer games:

  • through lectures given by experts in these topics;
  • by developing a complete system for rehabilitation or assistance;
  • by collaborating with students of complementary background;
  • by competing against other groups to develop “the best system”.

The first part of this course will consist of lectures introducing the basis in the topics necessary to develop rehabilitation devices and games. Groups of students of different backgrounds will then be formed, that will develop an assistive device or a therapeutic game. They will also test the functioning of their system on other students. The last session will consist of a “competition”, in which the systems developed will be presented to the whole class and assessed by the other groups and the lecturers.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Mechatronics design and computer therapeutic games.

Intellectual Skills

Human-centered design, rehabilitation technology.

Practical Skills

Electronics, real-time control, signal processing, applied computer graphics.

Transferable Skills

Team work, problem solving, information technology, presentation skills, learning by doing.

Module syllabus

 Week 1

Talk from People who specialize in the following areas:
Orthopaedics (Alison McGregor, Imperial and Charing Cross Hospital)
•    Problems relating to musculoskeletal system
•    Current methods of treating these problems.
Stroke (Diane Playford, UCL and NHNN)  
•    Stroke
•    Types of stroke patients
•    Rehabilitation techniques
•    Current systems
Epilepsy (John Bowen, Imperial)
•    Epilepsy
•    Detection methods
•    Current methods

Week 2
Cerebral Palsy (Tom Arichi, Imperial and Hammersmith Hospital)
•    CP
•    Effects
•    Rehabilitation Techniques
•    Methods
Ageing (to be confirmed)

Peter Childs
o    Engineering Design
o    Creativity
o    Product Design

Week 3
Etienne Burdet: rehabilitation technology
Simon Colton: gaming and software aspects of course
Nick Roach and Asif Hussain: design and working of the ReHandFun module

Week 4
Presentation by students
o    Area of interest
o    Problem with in that area
o    General proposed solution for the problem

•    Proposed system for solving the problem
•    Games/ motivation for subject
•    Degree of motivation for subject
•    Assessment
•    How they propose to assess/measure

Week 5-14
Lab sessions / weekly meetings
o    Discuss problems
o    Progress
o    Design help/assistance

Week 15-16
o    Work done
o    Achievements
o    Issues involved
Live demo

Note that the presentations in the first weeks can vary as they typically integrate our latest collaborations.


Imagination and motivation to learn by developing a system for rehabilitation or assessment using sensors. Background in either mechanics/mechanical design, electronics, computer science, bioengineering. Note that because this course is project-based, we have to limit the number of attending students to 20-25. Students for this course are selected: i) to provide a balance between students from different departments, and ii) according to their grades in previous years.

Teaching methods

Labs: 25 hours


●  Written report: Mechanical mechanism; 6.6% weighting; 6.6% weighting, 1 page report, submitted via Turn it in
●  Written report: One neurological disease; 6.6% weighting; 6.6% weighting, 1 page report, submitted via Turn it in
●  Written report: Group Report; 10% weighting; 10% weighting, Group report (5 pages), submitted via Turn it in
●  Presentation: Competition; 40% weighting; 40% weighting, Competition in class (peer-rated and academic assessed)
●  Oral exam: 

Feedback : feedback to the reports is given within 2 weeks

Module leaders

Professor Etienne Burdet