Marin Movement Center Physical Therapy Blog

Marion Kregeloh, PT, CFP provides health information for physical therapy, osteoporosis, chronic pain, physical therapy, orthopedic therapy, Feldenkrais, in the Marin Movement Center blog.

Robots for Injury Recovery?

Posted by Marion Kregeloh
Marion Kregeloh
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on Friday, 22 March 2013
in Physical Therapy

 

Robots for Injury Recovery?

 

Scientists are exploring the use of robots for treatment of loss of movement due to stroke. Intense rehabilitation and repetition are essential for recovery. Exoskeleton robots are used to mimic movement that is identical to the human limb. For example, in order to retrain lost arm movement, the robot is moving the paralyzed arm through its degrees of authentic movement. While the patient is witnessing the movement of the arm over a screen (worn like large goggles), the brain is receiving messages indicating actual left arm movement. It can also provide virtual tasks such as reaching for an object with the affected hand. Furthermore, the healthy arm can be used to activate movement in the left arm, via the robotic set-up. It is found that symmetrical, bilateral movements through visualization as well as virtual and actual movements enhance neuroplastic changes in the brain. Repetition, intention and consistency are important in order to re-establish the pathways in the brain that then allow for initiation of active movement. The brain is trained to rewire itself.

 

Another robotic model is used for home use. People who recover from stroke can take advantage of the McManus (newest model InMotion2) models that are being used in some case studies. It assists the individual with exercises and especially when insurance coverage for physical and occupational therapy runs out, the robotic model can further support the rehabilitation. Case studies have shown that weekly use of such robot assisted exercise for at least four weeks improve limb function. Long-term goals are to also support hand and wrist function and refine the robots for such function.


While the use of robots for movement recovery is still in its early stages, it already shows promising results. Thanks to the amazing capabilities of the brain to learn, change, and rewire itself, prognosis for movement dysfunction due to various pathologies is excellent and I am very optimistic that we are only in the very beginning of its vast capacity.

 

To see a video about robotic use in the recovery of stroke, please visit http://www.smartplanet.com/video/robots-to-aid-stroke-victims-with-physical-therapy/460398.

 

For further information, please call Marion Kregeloh, PT, CFP at 479.1765.

 

 

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