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July 18, 2024
Innovative Robotic Arm for Stroke Recovery
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Innovative Robotic Arm for Stroke Recovery

May 24, 2024

A pioneering robotic arm designed to assist stroke patients in their recovery is being developed at the University of Aberdeen. This cutting-edge device aims to help patients safely rehabilitate at home without the constant presence of a physiotherapist.

The project is spearheaded by final-year PhD student James Greig, who envisions the “Soft Robo Arm” addressing the high demand for physiotherapy appointments. Currently in the development phase, the device is set to undergo rigorous testing before moving to clinical trials.

The “Soft Robo Arm” is designed to be strapped onto a patient’s arm, providing essential support for basic repetitive movements crucial for stroke recovery. Greig highlighted the device’s lightweight and cost-effective nature, noting that it is constructed from materials comfortable for patients to wear.

Despite initially having “no knowledge” of robotics, Greig successfully tackled the challenge of creating a device robust enough to move an elbow, which requires considerable force. The robotic arm, currently operated via a laptop, could eventually be controlled by a phone or desk device, enhancing its user-friendliness.

By mimicking movements encouraged during physiotherapy sessions, the device aims to replicate therapeutic exercises. It functions by pumping air from a small compressor into inflatable strips of material, which then press together to facilitate limb movement, akin to a bicep curl.

Greig expressed optimism about the future of the Soft Robo Arm: “It is a medical device, so there’s a lot of testing we need to do, but there’s no reason this can’t go to market.” The potential of the device extends to physiotherapists, who could use it to treat multiple patients simultaneously, enhancing the efficiency of stroke rehabilitation.

As the Soft Robo Arm continues its journey through development and testing, it holds the promise of revolutionizing stroke recovery, offering a practical solution to both patients and healthcare providers.

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