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Rehabilitation

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Generally speaking, people tend to dislike doing the exercises that are part of physiotherapy. Not helping matters is the fact that in many cases, patients must travel to a clinic to perform those exercises under the supervision of a trained professional. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS are developing a “telerehabilitation” system that allows patients to perform exercises at home or when out and about, while still receiving feedback from a physiotherapist. Read More
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