4 June 2013

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have just begun a three-year project, which uses robots to help people to recover from strokes.

Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian, an expert in rehabilitation robotics and assistive technologies and a senior lecturer in adaptive systems at the University's School of Computer Science is co-ordinating a new FP7 European project called SCRIPT - Supervised Care and Rehabilitation Involving Personal Tele-robotics.

The project team plans to develop robotic devices, which will facilitate repetitive movement of the hand and wrist to be delivered during the chronic phases of stroke rehabilitation.

"The project focus on hand and wrist exercise presents the least researched area in this field and has the potential to make a big contribution to personal independence," said Dr Amirabdollahian. “Our developed prototypes will be available for home use and in a motivating and engaging context, which should provide easier and more frequently available tools, which should in turn affect the patient recovery”.

The researchers plan to develop a tele-robotic communication platform which patients can use in their own homes and which can be managed remotely thus reducing the number of hospital visits needed. The research of the UH team will be based on existing research from their interactive systems and robotics lab which hosts state of the art equipment and software for investigating therapeutic human robot interaction. The SCRIPT project will provide additional focus on adapting robot’s interaction forces to those required for a therapeutic interaction. This would allow for a more natural interaction. In addition, the goal is to provide patients with immediate feedback as well as providing immediate feedback to “off-site” health care professionals.

Other project partners are: R.U. Robots Limited (RUR), University of Sheffield, Universiteit Twente, Roessingh Research and Development BV (RRD), MOOG BV, San Raffaele S.p.A. and User Interface Design GMBH.

This project is partially funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.