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Robot Physical Therapist Helps People Walk Again After a Stroke


The smart harness in use.

A robotic harness controlled by a neural network offers tailored treatment to people who have suffered certain neurological injuries that has immediately improved their ability to walk normally.

Credit: Jean-Baptiste Mignardot

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland have developed a smart harness that uses artificial intelligence to help people regain their mobility following certain neurological injuries.

The smart harness collects information on leg movement, stride, and muscle activity from body sensors, and then uses that information to provide support specifically designed for the way the patient walks, determining how much force to apply to produce a natural gait.

Following a single, one-hour training session with the smart harness, patients with spinal cord injuries showed immediate improvement in their gait out of the harness compared to those who did not use the harness, according to the researchers.

The system helps patients rebuild lost muscle mass and relearn posture and movement, while also retraining the brain to handle the balance between gravity and forward motion that walking requires.

From New Scientist
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