The Center for Bionics and Pain Research (CBPR) focus on four main research areas: Bionic arms, bionic legs, neurorehabilitation, and pain cause by sensorimotor impairment. By developing medical engineering technologies and treatments, the center aims to improve the quality of life in people who have had amputations, nerve injuries, stroke, or other events leading to sensorimotor impairment.​​​​​

New center for research into bionics and pain

​A new, interdisciplinary research center has been established in Gothenburg to promote the further development and clinical implementation of novel technologies to treat sensory and motor impairments, such as amputations or nerve injuries. Thanks to generous donations, the Center for Bionics and Pain Research (CBPR) will help patients regain quality of life through world-leading technologies and treatments, developed by engineering and medical professionals working closely together.
The new Center for Bionics and Pain Research (CBPR) is formed by experts in engineering, medicine, and medical practice from three participating organisations: Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. 

CBPR has been made possible thanks to significant research grants from the Promobilia Foundation and the IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg Research Foundation, awarded to Chalmers researcher and Associate Professor Max Ortiz Catalan, now also serving as Director for CBPR. Max Ortiz Catalan is the researcher who led the development of the world's first mind-controlled and sensate arm prostheses used in daily life.

The overall goal of the collaboration is to develop medical technologies and treatments to restore lost sensory and motor function, in people who have, for example, lost a limb or suffered nerve damage, and to relieve the pain that can arise from these types of sensorimotor impairments. ‘Sensorimotor’ refers to the experience of sensations and the control of our body movements.

There will also be research into the wider effects of such technologies and methods, such as safety aspects and health economics. Increasing the understanding of the causes of sensorimotor pain, such as phantom pain, will be an important part of research at CBPR.

Strong investment by Swedish research foundations
CBPR has been made possible thanks to significant research grants, mainly from two private Swedish foundations. The largest financier is the Promobilia Foundation, which has contributed SEK 50 million to the establishment of CBPR.

Max Ortiz Catalan“We are extremely happy to participate and have high expectations for this new project,” says Kaj Sigstam, Chairman of the Promobilia Foundation. “The research and development that will take place at the Center echoes the values we have at Promobilia – to create more independent lives for people with disabilities. We also appreciate that the research and development is closely and directly implemented by users of the healthcare system, so that the results can benefit those in need more quickly.”

Another important donor is the IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg Research Foundation​, which is financing the purchase of equipment through an award of SEK 15 million.

“We are very happy to continue our investment in this important research. Through the new center, Max Ortiz Catalan's globally unique technology can continue to develop at an even faster pace and provide ever better help to more patients,” says Christina Backman, Chairwoman of the IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg Research Foundation.

Facilitating successful research collaboration
“I have enjoyed successful collaborations with researchers from Sahlgrenska and the University of Gothenburg for several years. I see the new center as a platform to enable my research team to work even more closely with our medical partners. In this way, we can continue to develop even more effective technologies for overcoming physical disabilities and pain,” says Max Ortiz Catalan.

Their collaboration so far has already led to the development of cutting-edge technologies such as neuromusculoskeletal prostheses – artificial limbs, mainly arm prostheses, which are connected to the patient's skeleton, nerves, and muscles.

“Introducing new technologies into clinical practice is just as important as developing them. At CBPR, we will work together with clinicians and industrial partners to ensure that our new advances are developed and tested considering the needs of all stakeholders, and according to the best clinical practices. This will enable a seamless clinical introduction,” says Max Ortiz Catalan.

Exciting projects with great benefit for patients
The establishment of CBPR will bring many benefits, something further emphasised by representatives from Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg:

“This is a welcome development of the successful research collaboration we have already enjoyed at the Center for Advanced Reconstruction of Extremities (C.A.R.E.). This has resulted in, among other things, the development of globally unique mind-controlled arm prostheses, and important research into the phenomenon of phantom pain,” says Carina Reinholdt, Head of C.A.R.E. and the Department of Hand Surgery at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

“Now that CBPR is opening, in the newly constructed R-building at Mölndal Hospital, many exciting projects can begin – projects with great benefit for patients with amputations requiring prosthetics, as well as patients suffering nerve damage, pain in the musculoskeletal system, spinal cord injuries, strokes and paralysis, for example,” continues Carina Reinholdt.

“We have a lot to learn from each other about the meeting points between humans and technology, between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. This collaboration will be very positive for everyone involved – especially the patients,” says Anna Nilsdotter, Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Gathering broad competence with cutting-edge knowledge
“Those of us who work with orthopaedics at Sahlgrenska Academy are very much looking forward to an expanded collaboration with Chalmers. The goal of research into musculoskeletal diseases and injuries is to find new and more effective ways to improve mobility and relieve pain. The collaboration through the Center will provide broad competence for clinical medical technology research in this area, offering good opportunities to develop new treatment methods,” says Ola Rolfson, Professor and Head of the Department of Orthopaedics at Sahlgrenska Academy.

This is something that Peter Dahm, Professor and Head of the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, agrees with:

“The experience and competence of our partners will contribute valuable knowledge to our organisation. We see great developmental potential for future joint projects, especially for patients who need prostheses, and those suffering from neuropathic pain. We are looking forward to it, and warmly welcome them!” he says. 

Several industry partners are also involved in projects at CBPR, such as Össur and Ottobock – the two largest prosthetic and orthopaedic companies in the world – as well as the robotics company Prensilia in Italy, and the orthopaedic implant company Integrum AB in Sweden.

CBPR will be based at the R-building at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Mölndal.

Examples of successful research projects
The three parties have already collaborated on projects and achieved remarkable results. The center is being established to strengthen and facilitate this close collaboration.

Examples of projects carried out under the leadership of Max Ortiz Catalan:

More information

For further information contact:
Max Ortiz Catalan​​, Associate Professor, Head of the Bionics Research Unit at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, and Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research
 +46 70-846 10 65​, maxo@chalmers.se
Carina Reinholdt, Head of the Department of Hand Surgery and of C.A.R.E., Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Anna Nilsdotter, Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
+46 70-082 56 05, anna.nilsdotter@vgregion.se
Ola Rolfson, Professor and Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, 
+46 31-343 08 52, ola.rolfson@gu.se
Peter Dahm, Head of the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
 +46 031-34 250 59, peter.dahm@vgregion.se

Portrait photo of Max Ortiz Catalan: Oscar Mattsson
Other images: Chalmers

Page manager Published: Tue 15 Dec 2020.