Of the various effects that a stroke can have on a person, one of the most common is paralysis of one side of the body – needless to say, this has a severe impact on the victim’s ability to walk. Treatment often consists of therapists retraining the person’s body by repeatedly lifting their legs, guiding them through a proper walking pattern. The EU-funded CORBYS project aims to make such therapy easier for everyone involved by using a powered orthosis to move the patient’s legs in response to feedback from their brain.
Each year, thousands of people worldwide experience full or partial paralysis as a result of spinal cord injury. Though there’s currently no medical cure for such injuries, new EU-funded research poses the potential to give patients the ability to walk again, with the aid of a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton dubbed “Mindwalker.”
Are the famous lines "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him – we have the technology" from The Six Million Dollar Man
coming true? Perhaps not entirely, but a new Channel 4 documentary entitled How to Build a Bionic Man
will demonstrate the current state of the art in artificial limbs, organs, and even blood, through the construction of a 6-foot tall android. The documentary is set to air on British televisions come February 7, but you can learn about what went into it after the break.
that artificially augment puny human muscles have been in development for years, but we're yet to see any of them really take off. Panasonic is still betting on its own solution, the Power Loader Light
(yes, named after the one seen in the sci-fi film Aliens
), which is being developed by Activelink, one of its subsidiaries. The company has made some modifications since its initial appearance in 2010 and is showing off how it works on video for the first time.
After suffering a stroke or spinal cord injury, a patient regaining their ability to walk typically requires three to five physical therapists supporting them while physically moving their limbs. This is not only physically exhausting, but leaves therapists at risk of personal injury. Now, the leading health care facilities in Korea have adopted a rehab robot that only requires one therapist – the Walkbot combines an adjustable lower-body robotic exoskeleton
that moves a patient's legs in time with a treadmill.
For people who are unable to walk under their own power, exoskeletons offer what is perhaps the next-best thing. Essentially “wearable robots,” the devices not only let their users stand, but they also move their legs for them, allowing them to walk. While groups such as Berkeley Bionics
, Rex Bionics
, and ReWalk
are all working on systems, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has just announced the development of its own exoskeleton. It is claimed to offer some important advantages over its competitors.
Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, the Japanese government has been testing robotics technologies to help deal with future accidents. The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) exoskeleton, developed by the University of Tsukuba spin-off Cyberdyne, is being considered for first responders.
What do astronauts on a mission to Mars and earthbound paraplegics have in common? Quite a bit, including the news that NASA is developing a robotic exoskeleton for both of them. Called the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton, it’s derived in part from NASA’s Robonaut 2 humanoid robot now undergoing trials aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The X1 uses robotic technology for a dual-use exoskeleton that has applications for both astronauts on long space missions and the walking impaired on Earth.
Like Honda’s Stride Walking Assist
and the ReWalk
, the Kickstart from Cadence Biomedical is designed to help improve the gait of people who have difficulty walking and help them regain their mobility and independence. But unlike its robotic cousins that are powered by weighty rechargeable batteries, the Kickstart is able to ditch the batteries altogether because it has no motors to power. Instead, it is purely mechanical and provides assistance by storing and releasing kinetic energy generated by a person when walking.
A collaboration between Rice University, the University of Houston and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital has led to MAHI-EXO II, a sophisticated exoskeleton that could help stroke victims regain movement in the arms by reading the patients' intended actions and nudging them along when needed. The robot wraps the arm from the fingertips to the elbow and uses a non-invasive EEG interface to anticipate gestures and help patients build up strength and accuracy over time.