by Jia-Jheng Yeh
Technology in Rehab Robot to Improve Health Care Efficiency
With the increase of the aging population around the world and the structural changes of the healthcare industry, manpower coming in short supply has become more evident. In recent years, the robotics industry has become highly developed. It is hoped that rehabilitation with the help of robots and assistive technology could reduce the burden on rehabilitation providers and improve patients’ quality of life.
Full-body Robotic Exoskeleton
Jabez Lin, who won the champion and Popularity Award of the 2nd Makers Challenge Competition, founded Tai Mecha Lab, using 3D-printing and AI technology to create Taiwan’s first full-body robotic exoskeleton, based on human-machine integration. The design can be used for rehabilitation and mobility aids, allowing the disabled to get out of their wheelchair and stand up again. After seven years of hard work, Jabez went from “thinking” to “doing,” bearing in mind the mission to help users improve the quality of life and those suffering from paraplegia to be able to stand again. Lin builds assistive devices using 3D printing, where the shortcomings often seen in traditional devices are removed, and the structure of the designs becomes more lightweight through the use of strong carbon fiber.
Intelligent Robot for Upper Limb Rehab
To take care of patients suffering from strokes, spinal injuries, and movement disorders, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital has developed Taiwan’s first intelligent robot for upper limb rehab. The robot is integrated with a robotic exoskeleton and artificial intelligence (AI) to help patients recover in a faster and more comprehensive way. With the help of an augmented reality(AR) assistance system and the instant feedback from electromyography (EMG), the system can assist patients in the movements regarding their accuracy and position, so that patients could once again move around with ease.
FREE Walk Robotic Exoskeleton
The FREE Walk robotic exoskeleton, created by Free Bionics, can assist users with natural walking movement with external power from machines. In the past, patients with spinal injuries had to wear iron assistive devices to fix their joints during standing practice in rehab. Users had to use their arms to support and swing their bodies forward with force, which could exhaust the arms for long periods of time, and users might not be able to walk for too long. For this reason, the FREE Walk robotic exoskeleton is designed to with a lightweight and motor transmission system that can greatly facilitate users in applying forces. Also, the exoskeleton is able to adjust users’ every movement.
With the rapid advancement of technology, it is believed that in the near future, robots will be able to think and learn. However, the development of healthcare robots does not mean that human healthcare workers will be removed; instead, technology is here to improve healthcare efficiency.