Robotic suits, a bionic skeleton, anti-gravity tracks – all these seem to be inventions from films about the future. In fact, today these technical adaptations are actively used by the world’s leading clinics. Medical robots are not just “technologies for technology”, which attract public attention.
This is a real breakthrough in rehabilitation, as the results obtained make it clear that the effectiveness of such therapy is several times greater than that of standard methods. Let’s find out what the modern rehabilitation therapy really is …
Many people after a stroke violated the functions of the hands , especially with regard to fine motor skills. For such patients, many special exercises have already been developed that help to restore functionality.
However, this kind of rehabilitation is very monotonous, it takes a lot of effort, and the result is noticeable only after a fairly long time. “An instrument from the future”, which today began to be actively used in rehabilitation are the robotic gloves.
The device is called SCRIPT and is a robotic glove, as well as a series of computer games. The patient plays the game, controlling the hero with the help of a glove, while simultaneously developing the motor skills of the hands. A person is involved in the process, and therapy sessions are much more interesting and effective for him.
A costume that teaches a person to walk
Literally a couple of years ago the world learned about bionic costumes. These devices, which help stroke victims, patients with spinal cord injuries, as well as neurological diseases, teach how to stand and walk again.
This method works much faster than traditional physiotherapy. Initially, these “suits”, or, more correctly, exoskeletons, were designed for the military. Some of these exoskeletons were created by Ekso Bionics, whose technical director saw how his brother, a marine, recovered from a back injury.
After that, bionic costumes began to be produced as medical devices. Exoskeleton is made of titanium, and aluminum and weighs more than 20 kilograms. However, the wholedevice carries its weight to the ground.
Bionic costume completely repeats human biomechanics. Moreover, it is equipped with special sensors, which determine which movements need help to the host.
The device is able to determine which part of the body is paralyzed and compensate for the missing function. Today Ekso Bionics devices are available in Germany, Czech Republic, America, France and Italy. Israel also developed its own bionic costumes called ReWalk.
This invention was the TOP-innovation of the year according to the Time Magazine. At the moment, the exoskeleton ReWalk is available in leading clinics in the departments of rehabilitation – Loewenstein and Reuth.
In addition to robotic suits, today robots, smart simulators have become a reality. For example, the G-EO System is a system of robotic rehabilitation of walking. Two freely programmable footboards (platforms for placing legs) simulate any model of gait, obstacles, including climbing and descending the stairs. The device is also able to adapt to the capabilities of the patient.
Additional modules, for example Visual Scenario, can be connected to the G-EO system to visualize the session and provide the patient with a real-time feedback about the results. The cost of this simulator remains quite high, but many clinics in Germany and Israel have already purchased it in their departments.
Among the “smart simulators” is also worth highlighting RE-STEP – a computerized system “Repeat step”, which is a pair of shoes and a computer program. A feature of the simulator is that the pistons built into the sole can change the angle of the foot during walking. Overcoming these obstacles, the patient completely restores the motor skills of his legs.
Simulators with electrostimulation
The creators of the therapeutic system SAGE went even further. Their simulator RT600 upright FES SAGE – parrallel with the simulation of walking exercises activate electrostimulation of the upper and lower extremities.
The RT600 system can stimulate up to 16 muscle groups on one or both legs, trunk and shoulders. The activation of muscles by electric stimulation is carried out at the very moment when the given muscle is involved in the performance of a certain motor action. This many times increases the effectiveness of rehabilitation and decreases its time.
The treadmill, over which the patient hangs on the belts, and on his feet robotic boots – this is reality. And this is called the Locomotive. Unique footwear helps a person to carry out movements, and belts support his body, reducing the load. Special sensors measure the activity of parts of the body and display information on the screen. Each time the patient is given certain tasks, and he can follow the process of implementation which serves as an additional motivation.
Antigravitation for pain reduction
The weight of the patient is an additional burden on the injured part of the body. But this is not a problem that could not be solved through modern technologies.
Developers of the AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill have found a way to reduce the force of gravity and thus adjust the sensations of the person’s weight.
Unique “weightlessness technology” reduces the patient’s sense of his own weight from 20% to 100%.
Thanks to the innovative simulator, today many people have the opportunity to recover from injuries of the lower extremities with less impact and consequently less pain.
In addition to reducing the impact on the injured area, the negative impact on the joints and muscles in general is also reduced.
In conclusion, it is important to note that all these simulators and devices would be useless, if such an important factor as the individuality of the patient, the peculiarities of his case, were not taken into account. The effectiveness of therapy by at least 50% depends on the doctor’s approach to the patient, how much he can personalize the treatment program, and only then on the availability of modern technology.