Robot-Assisted Gait Training for Older Adults: NILTWAMOR and Lucia
The number of older adults with gait disorders is increasing due to an aging population. Early rehabilitation is critical for preventing bedridden patients and for facilitating recovery of walking function. We have developed a novel gait-training platform consisting of two walking-assistance robots called Novel Intelligent Lift-Type Walking-Assist Mobile Robot (NILTWAMOR) and Lucia, a human-interactive medical support robot. NILTWAMOR, which has an omnidirectional driving system using omniwheels, a laser sensor, and a bodyweight-supported system using two wires that can each independently hoist a harness, is applicable for early stage rehabilitation. To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed gait-training platform, NILTWAMOR was tested with an older patient undergoing gait rehabilitation. Lucia, a human-interactive locomotive robot that supports gait training based on autonomous evaluation and navigation of human body movements, is designed to be used in the recovery phase of rehabilitation. In experiments with a healthy participant and with patients with Parkinson’s disease or cerebral paralysis, we examined the advantages of the proposed method for motor measurement and sensory stimulation. NILTWAMOR and Lucia can be combined, such that Lucia offers navigational support for NILTWAMOR. NILTWAMOR and Lucia are shown to be useful as effective rehabilitation tools. They also provide a comprehensive system to ensure we are meeting both cognitive and motor needs of older patients during rehabilitation. Additionally, the focus is on empowering patients by, for instance, allowing kinesthetic recognition of their own movements during rehabilitation. This focus on needs and empowerment of older users must be a main concern for researchers designing and testing emerging health-based technologies.
KeywordsBodyweight supported training Tracking control system Floor reaction force control Robotic rehabilitation Gait training Kinesthetic recognition Sensory stimulation Whole-body movement
We are grateful to the staff and management of Matsuyama Rehabilitation Hospital of Medical Foundation, Jikyokai, Fukushimura Hospital, Japan, and the nursing welfare facility Tenryu Kouseikai Japan for their manifold support, including the provision of experimental environments. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research) Grant Number JP16K25560283 and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15K12581 and 26702022, and Chinokyoten Aichi II-PR2.
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