LOPES Robotic Exoskeleton Assists Stroke Victims

The LOPES (LOwer-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton) device is a robotic exoskeleton that both assists and assesses stroke victims in their quest to walk again. The new and improved LOPES provides eight degrees of freedom for better leg therapy.

Watch the following brief instructional video to see LOPES in action.

(LOPES LOwer-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton)

Regaining walking ability is one of the major goals during rehabilitation after stroke, as this ability greatly determines the level of socio/economic participation and the overall physical health of patients. There is growing scientific evidence that task specific and intensive training of actively performed movements results in the largest functional improvement. Yet, routine application of such training faces some serious problems. Providing intensive task-specific training is very labor-intensive and puts therapists at risk of injury. The aging of the population will aggravate this situation, as it results in an increase in the number of patients. At the same time a decrease in the number of available therapists is expected. By using robotic devices to provide the patient with the required support, these problems can be circumvented.

Science fiction readers have followed along as sf writers have developed the idea of robotic exoskeletons; decades of writing culminated in this device from A Specter is Haunting Texas, a 1968 novel by Fritz Lieber:

This truly magnificient, romantically handsome, rather lean man was standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates. From the outer edge of each rose a narrow titanium T-beam that followed the line of his leg, with a joint (locked now) at the knee, up to another joint with a titanium pelvic girdle and shallow belly support. From the back of this girdle a T-spine rose to support a shoulder yoke and rib cage, all of the same metal. The rib cage was artistically slotted to save weight, so that curving strips followed the line of each of his very prominent ribs.

...The motors were controlled by myoelectric impulses from his ghost muscles transmitted by sensitive pickups buried in the foam-padded bands.
(Read more about the titanium exoskeleton)

From LOPES at University of Twente via Medgadget.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/28/2011)

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