Researchers from the National University of Singapore have invented a novel robotic walker that helps patients carry out physical therapy sessions to regain their leg movements and natural gait. The system also increases productivity of physiotherapists, and improves the quality of rehabilitation sessions. The walker can support a patient’s weight while providing the right amount of force at the pelvis to help the patient walk with a natural gait.
The robotic walker comprises six modules: an omnidirectional mobile platform, an active body weight support unit, a pelvic and trunk motion support unit, a suite of body sensors, a functional electrical stimulation unit, and an intuitive user control interface. The walker can also provide assistive force, resistive force, and disturbance force, depending on the training requirements set by the therapists. In this way, patients can go through different training schemes that are often difficult to achieve manually.
It allows the patient to practice gait movements by walking over ground instead of on a treadmill. Manual therapy can be taken over by the robotic system, while physiotherapists can focus on providing better assessment and training guidance for patients. The device also reduces the number of physiotherapists needed to conduct each rehabilitation session.