Written by Patrick Hobbs
Artificial Intelligence is not something historically associated with the world of physiotherapy, but it may well be the way forward in years to come, especially in the world of neuro physiotherapy.
The coming together of various disciplines such as engineering, medicine, and computing may prove to be revolutionary in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and provide healthcare in a way like never before.
An exciting new EU-funded research project* is working on the development of an upper-limb rehabilitation exoskeleton robot; leveraging rapidly growing technologies including AI, robotics, and cloud computing. This may sound like something from a dystopian future, but this is a project where research and developments may change the course of stroke treatment forever. Partners:
The project aims to make use of electromyographical data which analyses how the muscles move in response to receiving signals from the brain to identify the intention to perform a task. This will be used in combination with virtual rehabilitation, AI, and Robotics to develop a robotic exoskeleton for the upper limb.
The robot will be triggered in response to the identified intention using AI to drive the robot to assist the individual to carry out the intended task and facilitate the required movement patterns. The robotic limb combined with Virtual will assist a patient to perform day-to-day tasks. Using gaming in a virtual environment, the individual will increase the number of repetitions they perform in a fun, interactive engaging way. Using task practice through gaming in a meaningful context will improve motor learning and functional outcomes on their journey to recovery.
Every patient’s road to recovery is different, a database of EMG activity comparing normal and the identification of the patient’s intention to move will drive the movement of the robot to allow the patient to practice everyday tasks successfully. The combined approach of skilled clinicians, engineers, and computer scientists to design and develop the robot ensures that the end-user therapist and patient are able to influence the function and design to meet unmet clinical needs.
The cognitive engagement of the patient in the repetitive tasks for real-life tasks combined with a successful outcome through the help of the robotic exoskeleton means the patients are more likely to engage in the tasks and improve their outcomes and regain some of their independence.
Whilst this project is still in the research stage it is clear that there is endless potential in this area and that these different disciplines, whilst worlds apart, can all come together to truly change the lives of so many people. This project epitomises the meaning of R&D and highlights the true power of innovation through collaboration.
*The total amount of EU Financial Funding received is: €4,875,139.99 of which €3,333,849.26 has been co-financed by the European Regional Development Funds.