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Rehabilitation

The Vector Gait and Safety System uses a track-mounted robotic trolley to keep patients fr...

When a patient is undergoing rehab for a condition that compromises their gait or sense of balance, the process certainly isn't helped by the constant worry that they might fall. In fact, even the caregivers themselves can be injured when trying to move patients around. That's why California-based rehabilitative tech firm Bioness developed its Vector Gait and Safety System. It involves suspending the patient below a robotic trolley, that moves with them to hold them up.  Read More

A diagram of the experimental orthotic device

We've recently been hearing a lot about how exoskeletons can be used in rehabilitation, guiding patients' disabled limbs through a normal range of motion in order to develop muscle memory. The problem is, most exoskeletons are rigid, limiting their degrees of freedom to less than those of the body part they're moving. A team of scientists are looking at changing that, with a partial "soft exoskeleton" that replicates the body's own muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Read More

A test subject, wired up to the brain control interface

We've recently seen rehabilitative systems in which stroke victims use their thoughts either to move animated images of their paralyzed limbs, or to activate robotic devices that guide their limbs through the desired movements. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, have just announced an alternative approach. Their device acts as an intermediary between the brain and a non-responsive hand, receiving signals from the one and transmitting them to the other.  Read More

From left: the 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the prototy...

There is no better example of the rapid rate of product development than NSK's move into the area of robotics. At IREX 2011, NSK showed a prototype robot designed to safely guide the visually-impaired, with a footprint of 520 x 660 mm (20 x 26 in) and weight of 40 kg (88 lb). This week, just two years later, NSK showed two versions its Lighbot guide robot that represent a 75 percent weight reduction and an 83 percent footprint reduction. The ingenious right-or-left-hand-drive interface has been both replaced and improved, and all other aspects of the latest bots are equal to or better than the original.  Read More

Inventor Tomás Henriques' son Tristan, playing the Sonik Spring

Not long ago, Buffalo State University music professor Tomás Henriques set out to develop a digital accordion. While that in itself would have been newsworthy, what he ended up creating could ultimately have a lot more significance. Known as the Sonik Spring, Henriques’ device may find use not only in the field of music, but also as a means of physical rehabilitation.  Read More

The prototype soft exosuit in action

Powered exoskeletons show great promise both for augmenting the abilities of able-bodied users, and for rehabilitating the disabled. That said, they also tend to be hard-bodied contraptions that don’t look particularly comfortable (or light) to wear. Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute recently demonstrated what they hope will be a more user-friendly alternative – a “soft exosuit.”  Read More

Banerji Subhasis (left) and Dr. John Heng, testing the SynPhNe system

People recovering from strokes can often find rehabilitation very frustrating. They try to move their hand in a certain way, for instance, but it just won’t do it – why not? That’s where a new system known as the Synergistic Physio-Neuro Platform (SynPhNe) comes into the picture. It guides patients through exercises, monitors their performance, and lets them know why they’re unable to perform certain tasks. They can then use that knowledge to self-correct their actions, instead of just getting exasperated.  Read More

The robotic CORBYS platform incorporates an exoskeleton that trains stroke victims to walk...

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.  Read More

Researchers at Yale University have now found a molecular switch that can give an adult br...

It’s no secret that juvenile brains are more malleable and able to learn new things faster than adult ones – just ask any adult who has tried to learn a new language. That malleability also enables younger brains to recover more quickly from trauma. Researchers at Yale University have now found a way to effectively turn back the clock and make an old brain young again.  Read More

Dr Jonathan Williams and the SMARTwobble that objectively measures improvements in a patie...

With the notable exception of the Wii Balance Board introduced with Wii Fit in 2007, balance and wobble boards generally aren’t the most technological pieces of equipment. Dr Jonathan Williams, a physiotherapy lecturer at Bournemouth University in the U.K. has added sensors and wireless technology to the humble wobbleboard to objectively measure improvements in patients’ balance.  Read More

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