It's called robot therapy, and it may be the key to getting Stroke patients moving again. Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed the two and a half foot robot therapist dubbed Mit-Manus.
The technology is complex, but the concept is simple; re-training the brain to control muscles that were damaged by a Stroke. In this case, the robot has an extendable arm which is secured to a patient who has lost use of an arm. The robot arm moves through its programmed exercises. While the patient tries to follow along by colored targets on the screen. If they miss, the robot pulls them into the right direction.
Early studies show that adding the robot to a rehab program can double the mobility in a patient's arm. Robot therapy is making its way into rehab centers around the country and plans are in the works to develop a version patients can actually take home.
The MIT researchers are also studying robotic therapy for patients with other neurological disorders like Parkinson's Disease. Researchers are in the process of building new machines to work with limb segments including fingers, wrists, and ankles.
The study results were presented at the American Stroke Association's 27th International Stroke Conference. About 600,000 Americans each year suffer a Stroke. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. About 430,000 of the 600,000 survive, but often need extensive therapy to retrain the brain.