Rehab: A great role for robots

From FierceHealth IT (Stroke patient makes gains in speech, physical therapy with robot)

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst are touting success in the case of a robot that delivered speech and physical therapy to a 72-year-old male stroke patient.

“It’s clear from our study … that a personal humanoid robot can help people recover by delivering therapy such as word-retrieval games and arm movement tasks in an enjoyable and engaging way,” speech language pathologist and study leader Yu-kyong Choe said in an announcement.

While the child-sized robot might not be the ideal therapist, it could help ease the shortage of workers, especially in rural areas. 

“A personal robot could save billions of dollars in elder care while letting people stay in their own homes and communities,” the authors wrote in a study published in the journal Aphasiology.

To me it’s a no brainer to use robots for rehab. Take the phrase “arm movement” tasks. Robots can be much better than human therapists at doing boring, repetitive arm movement tasks over long periods of time. And of course if the robot can be the patient’s home it makes access all the easier.

In 10 years we’ll look back at these early results and it will be totally obvious the direction things were moving.

March 21, 2013

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