IEEE PULSE presents

Control Theory in Biomedical Engineering: Applications in Physiology and Medical Robotics

Book Reviews January/February 2021
Author: Paul King

Edited by Olfa Boubaker, Academic Press, 2020, ISBN: 9780128213506, xvi + 378 pages, $130

Some quick data regarding this text, to set the stage for the review: This text consists of 12 chapters overviewing “Control theory in biomedical engineering”; these comprise six chapters highlighting “Applications in physiology” and six chapters sampling “Applications in medical robotics.” Forty contributors to the text are named, and these individuals hail from ten different countries. The purported audience for the text from the publishers’ website consists of “Researchers and graduate students in both control engineering and biomedical engineering fields. Medical students and practitioners who want to enhance their understanding of physiological processes and medical robotics. Professionals in medical industries including those of industry of medical robotics, of artificial devices, of artificial organs, and rehabilitation devices.”

Chapter 1, titled “Modeling and control in physiology,” of the “Applications in physiology” section of the text gives a very quick overview of methods of modeling of physiological systems (compartmental, equivalent, data driven), discusses identifiability, observability, controllability, homeostasis, and control methods. The reader is quickly transitioned from diagrams involving see-saws to full-scale system diagrams. Chapter 2, “Mathematical modeling of cholesterol homeostasis,” presents a two-compartment model of cholesterol dynamics in the human, and briefly mentions possible additions to improve the model’s use in humans. Chapter 3, “Adaptive control of artificial pancreas systems for treatment of type 1 diabetes,” overviews a data driven modeling approach for therapies. Chapter 4, “Modeling and optimal control of cancer-immune system,” outlines a theoretical approach to cancer treatment planning. Chapter 5, “Genetic fuzzy logic based system for arrhythmia classification,” outlines an approach to electrocardiogram analysis and compares this result to seven prior analyses by the same authors. Lastly, Chapter 6, “Modelling simple and complex handwriting based on EMG signals,” reviews potential relationships between electromyogram signals and their “output,” the written word.

The “Applications in medical robotics” section begins with Chapter 7, “Medical robotics,” which gives a good overview of the field, including classifications, requirements, and examples from simulators to orthotics and prostheses, with several illustrations of devices. Chapter 8, “Wearable mechatronic devices for upper limb amputees,” discusses challenges related to current devices, such as cost, poor feedback to the user, and lack of usability. Chapter 9, titled “Exoskeletons in upper limb rehabilitation: A review to find key challenges to improve functionality,” covers its title very well. Chapter 10, “A double pendulum model for human walking control on the treadmill and stride-to-stride fluctuations: Control of step length, time, velocity, and position on the treadmill,” besides holding the record for the longest chapter title ever seen by this reviewer, attempts to relate a simple two pendulum model of human locomotion to measures of actual subject’s data. Chapter 11, “Continuum NasoXplorer manipulator with shape memory actuators for transnasal exploration,” reviews design data for a $270 (versus $3500–$6000) nasal probe for self-nasopharyngoscopy (an unlikely event). Lastly, Chapter 12, “Tunable stiffness using negative Poisson’s ratio towards load-bearing continuum tubular mechanisms in medical robotics,” reviews several methods to shape and stiffness change probes used in visualization and surgery. Both chapters 11 and 12 could use a more comprehensive literature review as key publications are not cited (by R. J. Webster III, R. F. Labadie, et al., for example).

You, the reader, might have by now inferred that the above contributions are of uneven quality. If so, you are correct, with variations from well-written, referenced, and illustrated chapters to the opposite. In addition, this text has an unusual trait that I found made it difficult to read: All references are in-line in the text, not as a reference number, but as a partial full reference.

Thus, for example, the very first sentence in Chapter 1 contains “(World Health Organization, 2019),” and the full citation is in the references. This might not seem to be a problem, until one gets to the second paragraph, where there are 30 such references embodied. An additional problem is the lack of lists of chapter (or text) acronyms. This makes it difficult for one to come back to a chapter section without a need to reread from the chapter beginning. As an example of this, Chapter 3 on the very first page has T1D, HIV, BGC, CSII, AP, and CGM defined in the text. You are expected to remember them for the next 15 pages, where 11 more acronyms are defined.

­—Review by Paul H. King, Vanderbilt University

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