Robots for stroke patients and more…
The video above features the LOPES (Lower Extremity-Powered ExoSkeleton) developed by Dr. ir Herman van der Kooij and his team at the University of Twente, Netherlands to assist stroke patients who are learning how to walk again. It’s a critical time to invest in projects such as this one as Europeans- and many other populations around the world- are ageing while the number of care giving professionals is dwindling.
Technology of this nature can provide important support for rehabilitation specialists as traditional methods for this type of rehabilitation are very labour intensive, often putting physiotherapists at risk of injury.
The LOPES has already been included in a couple European projects; formerly in one named Everyon and currently in the 3 year project MINDWALKER (Mind controlled orthosis and VR training environment for walk empowering ). This project is capitalising on the synergy that exists between diverse research fields in Europe; as potential robotics applications are becoming more and more concrete and plausible likewise, recent brain research is delivering promising results with new potential applications. Exploiting these concurrent developments, MINDWALKER incorporates the LOPES, Brain Computer Interface technologies and Virtual Reality in a comprehensive rehabilitation system for the lower limbs. Similarly, the SPECS Lab at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra has developed RGS (Rehabilitation Gaming System), a virtual reality tool that exploits what we know about the brain’s plasticity to rehabilitate arm movement in stroke patients.
Robot Companions for Citizens is another example of a European sponsored initiative which integrates advances in neuroscience, robotics and new materials. This initiative aims to create novel benefits for society by fostering the development of new types of robots and a new industry at large.