Robotic Arm Therapy
Frazier Rehab Institute is now one of a few hospitals in the nation, and currently the only rehab center in Kentucky and southern Indiana, to offer leading-edge treatment using upper extremity robots for patients who have sustained strokes and other neurological events. The MIT-Manus robot was designed by a group of researchers and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on the idea of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to form new pathways in order to relearn how to use parts of the body and brain that have been affected after a neurological event such as a stroke. The robot is specifically designed to improve movement of the shoulder and elbow on the affected side.
Oftentimes after a stroke, patients are left with minimal to no movement in the upper extremity. This can have a very negative impact on quality of life as it becomes very difficult to complete activities of daily living that were once so easy. However, with the use of the robot, patients begin to see an increase in the functional use of their shoulder elbow, wrist and hand.
How the Robot Works
While seated at a table, patients are able to view a computer monitor where they utilize the robotic arm to engage in a program set up similar to a video game. Patients move their arms toward targets as indicated on the monitor. If they are unable to achieve the required movements, the robot assists them through the full movement.
The robot is designed to detect even the slightest amounts of movement allowing patients to do as much as they can on their own. They receive feedback on the monitor letting them know just how much movement they are doing and what the quality of the movement is.
Not only does the robot assist in retraining the movement of the arm, it can also improve cognitive and perceptual skills that may have become impaired as a result of the neurological event. While the majority of patients using the robot are stroke patients, it is also being used with spinal cord and brain injury patients who have impaired upper extremities.
To participate in this therapy a physician’s order for Occupational Therapy is required specifying robot-assisted therapy. For more information on robot-assisted therapy, please contact Frazier Rehab Institute at (502) 582-7483.