October 12, 2012      

Robotherapist 3D, a robot which aids stroke patients’ recovery, is to be brought to market by its worldwide patent holder, Instead Technologies. Instead Technologies is a spin-off company from the Miguel HernAndez University of Elche (Alicante, Spain).

RobotTherapist 3D is marketed as the world?s first commercially available robotic device with the ability to work with patient’s both in supine as well as seated position. This feature makes it particularly valid in the first stage of rehabilitation that takes place at the hospital and in the following stages when the patient still needed regular therapy sessions.

Robotherapist 3D is designed to help these patients perform a series of light exercises and movements on a consistent basis, allowing them to begin the rehabilitation process early on and regain control of their everyday movements.

RobotTherapist3D device can be used for relearning daily living skills such as: taking a glass, drinking, etaing, etc.

The advantages of the RobotTherapist3D therapy:

  • Early rehabilitation in supine and/or seating position
  • Improved therapy efficiency maximizing therapy outcomes
  • Large 3D workspace
  • Virtual reaity environment to motivate patients with game-like exercises
  • Different level of assistance
  • Extensive documentation of the patient?s progress

Neuroplasticity

After a stroke, in addition to suffering from hemiplegia, patients will suffer from spasticity or muscle tightness. If patients cannot move their arm, the robot helps them lift it to a specific point. “These exercises improve neuroplasticity and re-establish damaged connections”, the researcher explains.

Instead Technologies does not hold the patent on this system. “It is a pre-existing technology. What we are thinking of patenting though is the type of rehabilitation and care procedure which we are developing,” adds GarcIa-Aracil.

Robotherapist 2D is already being tested with a chronic stroke patient, “and the results are promising.” They will now conduct a trial with patients from the rehabilitation unit of a public university hospital, before the robot is approved. “Some patients will receive conventional physiotherapy, while others will be treated with the help of the robot. The results will then be compared.”

Daily tasks

The second robot developed by the Biomedical Neuroengineering Group is Robotherapist 3D, whose worldwide patent has been granted to Instead Technologies. This new machine helps patients to perform movements in all positions and directions. In addition, it has a virtual reality system so that people can start to carry out everyday tasks again, such as lifting a glass of water to their mouth.

The robot “allows you to follow all of the steps involved in rehabilitation, firstly with passive movements of the upper limbs. When you have reached a certain level of mobility, you continue with occupational therapy, performing everyday tasks such as eating and drinking, all by means of virtual reality,” the researcher emphasises.

The company is financing the making of two prototypes and it has asked the Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), as well as a private hospital, for help in starting the trials in public and private hospitals.
The only one of its kind in Spain

Prior to the establishment of Instead Technologies, there were no companies in Spain which specialised in rehabilitation robots. And they are few and far between in the world in general. The main such companies are the Swiss company Hocoma and the US company Interactive Motion Technologies.

This gap in the market inspired some members of the Biomedical Neuroengineering Group at the Miguel HernAndez University of Elche to create a spin-off company, with the aim of bringing their own robots to market:
Robotherapist 2D and Robotherapist 3D. Their target users are public and private hospitals and rehabilitation clinics in Europe and emerging Latin American countries, according to Nicolas GarcIa-Aracil, group researcher and founding member of its company.

The company consists of five team members who are experts in the fields of medicine, IT, engineering, biology and biochemistry. There is also a sixth external member; a professional from the health industry whose identity remains confidential.

The group hopes to soon expand their focus from stroke victims to those suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The company also continues to innovate and develop other new technologies for the health market, including the BreastExplorer- a system that aids in ultrasound exploration and visualization of breast morphology.
So what?s in store for this different and impactful team of experts? For now, it?s a worldwide patent for the Robotherapist 3D, and a vow to continue to ?meet the high demands of patients with severe disabilities?based on new solutions to assist the recovery from a nervous system injury, keeping always the patient at the center of the team.?