Upper limb robot mediated stroke therapy - GENTLE/s approach
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Stroke is a leading cause of disability in particular affecting older people. Although the causes of stroke are well known and it is possible to reduce these risks, there is still a need to improve rehabilitation techniques. Early studies in the literature suggest that early intensive therapies can enhance a patient's recovery. According to physiotherapy literature, attention and motivation are key factors for motor relearning following stroke. Machine mediated therapy offers the potential to improve the outcome of stroke patients engaged on rehabilitation for upper limb motor impairment. Haptic interfaces are a particular group of robots that are attractive due to their ability to safely interact with humans. They can enhance traditional therapy tools, provide therapy "on demand" and can present accurate objective measurements of a patient's progression. Our recent studies suggest the use of tele-presence and VR-based systems can potentially motivate patients to exercise for longer periods of time. The creation of human-like trajectories is essential for retraining upper limb movements of people that have lost manipulation functions following stroke. By coupling models for human arm movement with haptic interfaces and VR technology it is possible to create a new class of robot mediated neuro rehabilitation tools. This paper provides an overview on different approaches to robot mediated therapy and describes a system based on haptics and virtual reality visualisation techniques, where particular emphasis is given to different control strategies for interaction derived from minimum jerk theory and the aid of virtual and mixed reality based exercises.
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