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A system for sensory motor rehabilitation of the upper limb with virtual reality, exoskeleton robot, and real objects

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8 Author(s)

Technology assisted therapy has the potential to transform rehabilitation options available, and to dramatically increase the reach of today's healthcare system. Yet challenges persist in rendering translational application designs that optimize the full potential of technology and create value for the patient and the therapist. In a step towards optimizing value of technologies for practical applications to support very weak patients who might otherwise be unable to participate in traditional therapies, an integrated sensory motor training station was designed and developed. Inspired by recent neuroscientific research findings the goal of the design was to provide concurrent first person perspective immersive action observation of both virtual and real elements for motor and sensory experience; the system incorporates a virtual limb proxy that can be personalized and actuated by the robot and that is accompanied by exercise practice in peripersonal space for a plasticity promoting experience for the hand and arm. The station uses virtual reality and real objects for visual sensory experience, real objects also provide tactile sensory experience, and an exoskeleton upper limb robot provides assistance to patients. For many patients, successful movement and movement intensity required in rehabilitation is not achievable without the robot assistance. The multi-sensory features of the system promote a top-down strategy for training the upper limb (hand and arm) complementing the robot training; the system is ideally targeted for weak patients and those with tactile or proprioception sensory loss and those who are known to benefit from multi-sensory experiences.

Published in:

Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA), 2011 IEEE Conference on

Date of Conference:

11-12 April 2011

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