A PhD award for Benoit Sijobert's work on digital disability management

Changed on 29/09/2022
Meeting with Benoit Sijobert, 1st Prize in the competition for the best thesis of the doctoral college of the University of Montpellier for his thesis carried out within the Inria Camin project-team.
2016 : Préparation du Cybathlon (équipe Freewheels)
Préparation du Cybathlon en 2016 (équipe Freewheels) © Inria / Photo C. Morel

What was your background?

I initially followed an engineering degree in information technology for health. I then worked for 5 years at Inria. First as a Young Graduate Engineer (IJD) in the Demar team (DEambulation and ARtificial Movement) then through my thesis work in the Camin team (Control of Artificial Motion & Intuitive Neuroprosthesis) where I obtained my PhD.

What was your research during your PhD?

My research work, within the Camin project-team, has mainly focused on the development of solutions to assist the movement of lower limbs in people with sensory-motor deficiencies, based on neuromuscular stimulation. During my PhD, we developed a network of electrical sensors and stimulators in the form of a generic and modular platform (hardware and software), offering the possibility of using various stimulators and sensors according to clinical need.

In collaboration with the medical teams, we were thus able to contribute to the development and clinical validation of several prototypes for the analysis and assistance of lower limb movement in Parkinsonian (CHU Montpellier), hemiplegic (CHU Nîmes & CRRF Menucourt) and paraplegic patients (COS DIVIO Dijon & the University of Brasilia) but also in children suffering from cerebral palsy, at the Lucile Packard Hospital of Stanford University (USA).

I was able to deploy closed-loop motion control algorithms where electrical stimulation triggered the contraction of paralysed muscles and the signals from the various on-board sensors were processed to be used within the control loop (inertial control unit, pressure soles...) and to evaluate functional and physiological performance. I also had the chance to participate in the development of an instrumented tricycle propelled by electrical stimulation of the leg muscles of paraplegic patients, triggered from the estimated angles of the lower limbs. One patient was trained for one year and successfully participated in the Cybathlon 2016, the first bionic Olympic Games (FreeWheels project).

What are your plans?

I have always been deeply motivated to develop solutions that improve the autonomy and quality of life of people with disabilities. I particularly enjoy working on these exciting and varied issues, in contact with a multidisciplinary environment, at the interface between patients/users, clinical and engineering environments, developing patient-oriented solutions and tools. After my PhD, I was hired as a Research & Development Manager at the Institut Saint-Pierre, a paediatric hospital located near Montpellier. There, I coordinate the HumanLab Saint-Pierre, a pilot collaborative space for digital manufacturing for people with disabilities. In partnership with doctors, occupational therapists, researchers, students, volunteers, etc., we support project leaders in the implementation of innovative solutions to improve their autonomy and meet their needs.

For me, it's a professional ideal and a real career goal that allows me to continue doing research, while at the same time applying it to a highly motivating goal!

Benoit Sijobert, Prix de thèse, Camin, Montpellier (Portrait)
© Inria / Photo L. Jacq

Sijobert Benoit

Responsable Recherche & Développement, FabManager, Humanlab, Institut Saint-Pierre

371, avenue de l'Évéché de Maguelone , 34250 Palavas-les-flots

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