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  • Silvia Buscaglione

An fMRI Compatible Smart Device for Measuring Palmar Grasping Actions in Newborns

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Lo Presti, D., Dall’Orso, S., Muceli, S., Arichi, T., Neumane, S., Lukens, A., ... & Schena, E. (2020).

Sensors, 20(21), 6040.


Grasping is one of the first dominant motor behaviors that enable interaction of a newborn infant with its surroundings. Although atypical grasping patterns are considered predictive of neuromotor disorders and injuries, their clinical assessment suffers from examiner subjectivity, and the neuropathophysiology is poorly understood. Therefore, the combination of technology with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may help to precisely map the brain activity associated with grasping and thus provide important insights into how functional outcomes can be improved following cerebral injury. This work introduces an MR-compatible device (i.e., smart graspable device (SGD)) for detecting grasping actions in newborn infants. Electromagnetic interference immunity (EMI) is achieved using a fiber Bragg grating sensor. Its biocompatibility and absence of electrical signals propagating through the fiber make the safety profile of the SGD particularly favorable for use with fragile infants. Firstly, the SGD design, fabrication, and metrological characterization are described, followed by preliminary assessments on a preterm newborn infant and an adult during an fMRI experiment. The results demonstrate that the combination of the SGD and fMRI can safely and precisely identify the brain activity associated with grasping behavior, which may enable early diagnosis of motor impairment and help guide tailored rehabilitation programs.

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