Dr. Huiliang (Evan) Wang, PI

An innovative project led by Dr. Huiliang (Evan) Wang, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been recognized for its potential to revolutionize stroke rehabilitation. Dr. Wang’s team, including researchers Dr. Ilya Pyatnitskiy and Ju-Chun (Leon) Hsieh, has been accepted into the prestigious National Science Foundation’s National I-Corps program for their innovation in developing a wearable electrode system for in-home stroke rehabilitation using EEG-based brain-computer interfaces.

The project addresses a critical gap in stroke recovery by leveraging EEG technology combined with functional electrical stimulation to enable stroke patients to engage in rehabilitation from the comfort of their own homes. Traditional methods of BCI-FES therapy are typically confined to rehabilitation centers, limiting access and increasing costs for patients and healthcare providers. However, Dr. Wang’s team aims to democratize stroke rehabilitation by creating a user-friendly and accessible solution that can be used anywhere without expert assistance.

Dr. Ilya Pyatnitskiy, EL

“Our goal is to reduce the economic burden of stroke disabilities and improve access to rehabilitation for stroke survivors across the United States,” says Dr. Wang. “By developing a wearable and multichannel EEG electrode system, we hope to make stroke rehabilitation more convenient, cost-effective, and efficient.”

The project’s intellectual merits are underscored by several innovations, including the development of novel EEG electrode materials, flexible and multichannel mesh EEG systems, and the integration of suitable algorithms for BCI operation. These innovations not only advance the field of neural recording and rehabilitation but also hold significant commercial potential.

The team’s entrepreneurial efforts are led by Dr. Pyatnitskiy, a research associate with a background in health tech startups, and Ju-Chun (Leon) Hsieh, a Ph.D. student specializing in wearable bioelectronics. Their collaboration, along with the guidance of industry mentor Jameil (Jay) Pendleton, positions the project for success in commercialization.

“We are optimistic about the commercial viability of this project,” says Pyatnitskiy. “Our technology has demonstrated promising clinical success, and we are committed to bringing it to market to benefit stroke survivors and healthcare institutions.”

Ju-Chun (Leon) Hsieh, EL

The broader impacts of the project extend beyond stroke rehabilitation, with potential applications in other neurological conditions and global healthcare settings. By offering an affordable and scalable solution, Dr. Wang’s team aims to transform the landscape of neurorehabilitation research and practice.

The acceptance of Dr. Wang’s team into the NSF’s National I-Corps program reaffirms the project’s significance and potential for societal and commercial impact. As they embark on this entrepreneurial journey, the team remains dedicated to advancing scientific understanding, improving patient outcomes, and fostering innovation in healthcare.

Jameil (Jay) Pendleton, Mentor

They are actively seeking feedback from stroke survivors, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and experts in rehabilitation to ensure that their wearable electrode system meets the diverse needs of users. Interested stakeholders, including stroke survivors, their families, and healthcare providers, are encouraged to participate in the team’s customer discovery process by providing valuable insights and perspectives. To contribute to this important effort and help shape the future of stroke rehabilitation, individuals can reach out to the team at pyatnitskiy@utexas.edu.

Learn more about the NSF I-Corps program and apply for the next cohort online. The application process is free, simple, and can be accessed here. For more information and to learn more about the NSF I-Corps program, contact Weston Waldo at weston.waldo@austin.utexas.edu.