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Applications of robotic/mechatronic systems in special education, rehabilitation therapy, and vocational training: a paradigm shift

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1 Author(s)
Erlandson, R.F. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI, USA

Presents and discusses a variety of robotic and mechatronic system applications that deviate from traditional rehabilitation uses, augmenting or replacing lost functional abilities, to applications which use these systems as therapeutic tools serving as part of the rehabilitation, vocational therapy, and educational process. These applications will include those systems designed and developed by the Enabling Technologies Laboratory at Wayne State University, as well as other organizations. Themes are emerging from the experiences gained through these diverse applications. Robotic/mechatronic systems promote active participation by the client. They are finding applications where consistent, repeatable manipulative operations are required for extended periods of time. The roles played by therapists, teachers, and service providers change as the role of the technology changes. Service providers are freed from mundane nontherapeutic or noneducational activities, and consequently are able to focus more fully on the client and the therapeutic or educational tasks. The systems have characteristics that improve their cost/effectiveness. For example, therapists or service providers can often leverage their time and attention by accomplishing multiple objectives and/or serving multiple clients with a given therapeutic or educational task. The systems typically perform multiple functions. Therapeutic activity is generally billable, and therefore the technology represents a revenue source. Since the technology is used by a number of clients, its cost can, be amortized over this client base. Lastly, clients tend to enjoy working with the technology. Each application is different, but in general, the systems are providing clients the positive effects of competent participation in a task or activity. These applications present system uses that go beyond augmentation and replacement of lost functional abilities and, as such, are expanding the popular model, or paradigm, regarding robotic and mechatronic system applications

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Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:3 ,  Issue: 1 )