Every year, 16'000 Swiss and over 12 millions people worldwide are effected by a stroke. Strokes are the the highest cause of disability among adults - only a quarter of the patients are exempt from after effects. In order for sufferers to regain their independence as well as possible, new approaches have been developed, of which includes non-invasive electronic and magnetic stimulation of the brain. The pioneer of this research is extremely promising, Friedhelm Hummel, has just joined the ranks of the EPFL thanks to the support from the 'Fondation Defitech' and the Canton du Valais. His research chair is being inaugurated today at the Clinique romande de réadaptation de la Suva (CRR), in the presence of Esther Waeber-Kalbermatten, President of the Conseil d'Etat du Valais, of Marcel Maurer, President of the town of Sion, as well as Sylviane Borel, President of the 'Fondation Defitech'.
Friedhelm Hummel will share his activity between the EPFL's satellite in the Valais, at the CRR, and the school's quarters in Geneva located on the Campus Biotech. It is here in the Valais that he will lead his clinical research, based mainly on non-invasive magnetic and electronic stimulation technologies. The researcher's former position was vice-director of the neurology department as well as being head of the sleep laboratory and that of the brain and neuro-stimulation imagery (BINS) at the university hospital of Hambourg-Eppendorf.
The 'fondation Defitech' strengthens its commitment with the EPFL
With Friedhelm Hummel, the Fondation Defitech reinforces its support to the EPFL. Created by Sylviane Borel and her husband Daniel Borel, founder of Logitech, her objective is to put the latest technology to the service of people with disabilities.
"In 15 year of existence we have covered all the aspects of these disabilities, explain Daniel and Sylviane Borel. We started in a specialised centre, by making a system of games and video-conferences available to children. Then in 2008 we joined the EPFL, by supporting the research chair of José Millan and his incredible brain-machine interfaces. Now, we have launched a clinically more direct dimension with M. Hummel, it's incredibly motivating."
Render the Valais as the worldwide centre concerning research on stroke caused disabilities
For the EPFL's satellite in the Valais, this recruitment is sign of a continuation of effort, in order to make Sion a central neuro-rehabilitation research centre. Since 2013, over 100 patients have been recruited from the Hôpital du Valais and the CRR, where a team from the EPFL are already working. 10 clinical projects are already in process.
To the activities carried out by Friedhelm Hummel here in the Valais can be added those of Grégoire Courtine, renown for his spectacular results in the field of spinal cord trauma. With the Clinique romande de réadaptation, he is going to set up some clinical tests of his robotic rehabilitation platform which, coupled with a system of stimulation of the spinal marrow, constitutes one of the most promising future therapies in the field of medullary damage.
In addition to this, in order to integrate the latest neuro-prothesis technology into the care program, the HES-SO Valais-Wallis, the EPFL, the CRR and the Hôpital du Valais count on putting in place a never-seen-before training program bringing together researchers and therapists, which will allow for a combination of different approaches, technological, methodological relational and social. This initiative concentrated on the site at Sion is a unique group of competences gathered around the question of stroke caused disabilities, from the basic research to the clinical application.
For Esther Waeber-Kalbermatten, President of the 'Gouvernement valaisan', such development "gives fantastic hope of rehabilitation to people suffering from their disabilities, and I hope that they will be able to increase their chances of returning to a normal life".
The management of the CRR looks forward to continuing this collaboration with the EPFL, for the good of its patients.