Robotic rehab for stroke sufferers after Hertfordshire university breakthrough

The CORBYS gait rehavilitation system for stroke suffers partly developed by scientists from the Uni

The CORBYS gait rehavilitation system for stroke suffers partly developed by scientists from the University of Hertfordshire - Credit: Archant

Stroke sufferers could learn to walk again with a ground-breaking rehab robot developed by researchers.

Scientists from the University of Hertfordshire have joined forces with European partners to develop a state-of-the-art robotic gait rehabilitation system.

At the moment, if a stroke patient is struggling to walk, multiple physiotherapists are needed to help support them and manually correct their gait on a treadmill.

But this process could become a thing of the past with the development of the Cognitive Control Framework for Robotic Systems (CORBYS).

The complex exoskeleton works and adapts with the patient to provide individualised therapy, overseen by one professional.

Several modes are available on the CORBYS system and therapists can use them to tailor treatment.

It also provides a full range of movement and adapts to users’ disabilities and constraints.

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The machine, which is roughly the size of a forklift truck, could also be used to help people who have suffered serious head injuries walk again.

Therapy sessions could also be extended as a patient working with the robot would only be restrained by their own limitations, instead of the fatigue of their therapists.

Six of the university’s scientists were instrumental in the project and were the main authors of a paper, which was presented at the prestigious International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Hamburg last week.

Dr Christoph Salge worked alongside colleagues Cornelius Glackin, Martin Greaves, Nicola Catenacci Volpi, Dari Trendafilov and Daniel Polani on the pioneering gait robot.

Dr Polani said: “This could help reducing pressure on repetitive tasks of the therapist during rehabilitation of stroke and other patients and improve the general availability of the therapist for required interventions.”

The robot works by measuring patients’ gaits in one setting where no restrictions are imposed.

Therapists can then study how they walk and manipulate the movement.

In the ‘corrective operating mode’, the patient can walk on the treadmill constrained by the robotic system, which can be tweaked and modified by the therapist.

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