Robots Plus Virtual Reality Equals Better Rehab

According to researchers at University of Medicine of New Jersey, patients who manipulate a robotic device with their feet to solve virtual reality tasks do better in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

“A robot alone only gives you a mechanism for doing the exercise. There is lots of repetition, which is a really big part of getting better, but the argument is you have to do the exercise for a purpose,” explained Judith Deutsch, PT, PhD, professor and director of the Research in Virtual Environments and Rehabilitation Sciences (RIVERS) Lab in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions and a co-author of this study.

In the study, patients manipulated the robot, which is similar to a handheld gaming joystick, with their feet to navigate a plane and a boat in their virtual environments through various targets and changing weather conditions.

This study is believed to be the first that demonstrates that virtual reality technology combined with a robotic interface actually improves patient performance in physical therapy.

Patients are already using robotic knees (see AKROD v2 - Active Knee Rehabilitation Device Human Trials) and Robot Hand HOWARD Stroke Rehabilitation.

From Combined use of robot and virtual reality improve rehabilitation after a stroke.

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