Rehabilitation robots

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Although today’s technology is improving the general safety and well being of society, there are still many accidents causing conditions such as spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, which result in impairment and disabling conditions. Despite the success of preventive strategies that control the risk factors that can cause stroke, such as control of blood pressure, weight and treatment of atrial fibrillation, recent studies have reported an upward incidence rate for stroke (Volpe et al., 2001, 745–752).The high prevalence and incidence rate of these conditions, alongside a growing ageing population, provides a demand for technological innovation in rehabilitation.During recent years, the progress in Rehabilitation Robotics (RR) has been significant and outstanding. Devices inspired by human dynamics, kinetics, kinematics and biomechanics have resulted in prototypes and marketable products for use with the fore mentioned conditions. A majority of these tools have indicated improvements in the recovery of motor and/or functional performance for patients recovering from stroke, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury. This chapter reviews the current landscape and recent technological advancements in this field. The section entitled ‘Robots’ provides a short introduction to the origin of the word ‘robot’. In the section ‘Current developments in rehabilitation robotics’, some pioneering projects are introduced and their achievements are discussed. Section ‘Haptic interfaces’ provides an introduction to haptics, touch sense for humans, design of force-feedback devices, different control paradigms often used and finally common virtual behaviours and human-robot interaction paradigms. The final section highlights current and future trends in robot mediated therapeutic interactions.


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