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Rehabilitation

By enabling the rigid brains of adult mice to return to the high levels of plasticity found in juvenile brains, scientists are opening new pathways to the treatment of brain injuries such as stroke. Back in 2013, researchers from Yale University reported the discovery of a molecular switch that achieved this result, and now scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have managed to make an old brain young again using a different approach.

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Until now, rehabilitation exoskeletons have generally been one-armed, and haven't been of much help in providing the sort of two-arm training that many patients need to recover coordination for carrying out daily tasks. Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin have now developed Harmony, a two-armed, robotic exoskeleton that uses mechanical feedback and sensor data to provide therapy to patients with spinal and neurological injuries.

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Paralysis or problems controlling movement are among the most common disabilities resulting from stroke and have a major impact on everyday life. Lancaster University researchers say seven out of 10 stroke survivors suffer from arm weakness as a result of their stroke, and only a fifth of these people ever regain the full use of their arm. A new study suggests the Nintendo Wii could provide an effective, economical and fun rehabilitation tool for stroke victims. Read More
It can be a laborious business, teaching people such as victims of strokes or brain injuries to walk again. Often, multiple physiotherapists are required to hold patients up while they walk on a treadmill, while also manually moving their legs to achieve the proper gait. Soon, however, a robotic walker developed at the National University of Singapore could make the process considerably easier. Read More
Falls are the leading cause of death by injury amongst seniors, and those falls are in turn typically caused by poor balance or an irregular gait. Taking things back yet another step, problems with balance and gait are often caused by diminished sensation in the feet. Now, however, a new study indicates that subtly-buzzing insoles may help seniors regain some of that lost sensation, and thus be less likely to fall down. Read More
If Angry Birds is known for anything, it's an ability to keep youthful eyes glued to the screen for extended periods of time. But a new study conducted at Georgia Tech has shown that teaching a robot how to play the video game keeps kids slinging those wingless birds through the air for even longer, a finding that could help in the rehabilitation of cognitive and motor-skill disabilities. Read More
Following multiple clinical studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the way for the ReWalk to be sold for personal use in the US. This makes the ReWalk the first motorized exoskeleton designed for people with lower body paralysis due to spinal cord injury to be cleared for personal use in the US. Read More
In what is being touted as a world first, a quadriplegic man has been given the ability to move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to the implantation of an electronic device in his brain and muscle stimulation sleeve. Part of a neurostimulation system dubbed "Neurobridge," the technology essentially bypasses the damaged spinal cord and reconnects the brain directly to the muscles. Read More

In order to better study hand/eye coordination, scientists need to simultaneously keep track of what a test subject is looking at, along with what their body is doing – and a new system is designed to help them do so. It combines one company's eye-tracking glasses with another's motion capture system. Read More

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
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