Discover the new Master Degree in Advanced Technologies in Rehabilitation

Physiotherapy and biomedical engineering may seem two distant worlds but this is not exactly the truth: both in Italy and abroad, the gap between the two disciplines can be filled by creating common connections and stimuli. This is why Humanitas University decided to start a Master in Advanced Technologies in Rehabilitation, in order to create a bridge between the clinical practice of motor rehabilitation experts and the technological potential offered by modern and advanced biomedical tools.

We asked Professor Roberto Gatti, Professor of Physiotherapy at Humanitas University and Scientific Director of the Master, to answer some of our questions.

Professor, to whom is the Master addressed and how is it articulated?

The Master is a one-year-long, level 1 Master degree, targeting physiotherapists, bioengineers and occupational therapists, from a minimum of 20 to a maximum of 30 participants.

The Master is structured in 3 periods of two very intensive weeks – every day, 7 hours a day of face-to-face lessons for two consecutive weeks: the first period will be in January, the second in June and the third one in October. Lectures will be done in presence and will include both theoretical and practical parts, as well as exercises.

In addition to the lectures, a few workshops will be organised, where some opinion-leading companies in the field will present their technologies to the students.

Finally, each Master student will attend a 4-week internship in some of the facilities affiliated with Humanitas University.

The Master is in English, in order to make it accessible for colleagues from both Italy and abroad.

How is the Master structured?

The Master is structured in 3 large modules: the first one deals with the acquisition and analysis of the bioelectric and electromyographic signal; the second one deals with the use of technologies for the instrumental analysis of movement; the third module is based on the use of technologies as a support to rehabilitative exercise.

We will start from the acquisition and analysis of the signal, and then describe the technologies for providing functional evaluation and support to rehabilitation exercises.

I would like to underline that the technologies will be presented in connection with the questions that emerge from clinical practice and will therefore be linked to the world of physiology, neurophysiology, biomechanics, etc.

As the Master integrates engineering and clinical skills, both engineers and clinicians will be teaching: starting from the questions arising from clinical practice, we will analyse the answers involving the most advanced technologies and their rationale.

What are the main topics?

The Master will explore the potential of surface electromyography and will present the systems for instrumental motion analysis, such as optoelectronic and force platforms. Among the therapeutic tools available, we will talk about virtual reality, robotics, stimulation and artificial prostheses’. Attention will be given both to large systems (robots, virtual reality instruments, etc.) and simple portable systems (sensors, accelerometers, portable electromyography instruments, etc.). The latter indeed can give added value to physiotherapy treatment in any professional context, as they are becoming increasingly affordable and easy to use. Despite being simple and cheap, it is nevertheless necessary to know their rationale in order to understand how to use them in the best possible way; and the Master also serves this purpose.

Where did the idea of such an innovative Master come from?

There is an increasing number of scientific articles indicating how technological systems can represent a useful support for motor rehabilitation programmes.

Especially in Italy, but not only, physiotherapists are not very familiar with these systems unfortunately, as they hide an enormous potential. There is a persisting dichotomy between the engineering world on one hand, which tends to advance on its own by building very complex and sometimes impractical machineries, and the physiotherapy world on the other hand. Physiotherapists indeed knows which clinical questions technology can answer, but often ignores that sometimes the answers are already available in the most modern technologies.

This is why Humanitas University had the idea to bring these two worlds closer through a Master degree in Advanced Technologies in Rehabilitation: many believe indeed that only by integrating the engineering and the physiotherapy world it’s possible to maximise the existing technological potential and therefore to develop new ideas towards achieving common goals.

Who are Humanitas University’s scientific partners?

The Master is organized by Humanitas University in collaboration with high-level scientific partners such as the Milan Politecnico. The scientific committee and teaching staff are composed of internationally renowned experts within the use of technologies for motor rehabilitation.

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Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.