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Robot legs help stroke survivors to walk again

Thursday, December 01, 2011 - 01:48

Dec. 1 - Researchers develop a robot that helps stroke survivors re-learn how to walk. The Lower Extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, or LOPES, is designed to help training the body and the mind of neurological patients to remember how to walk again after a stroke or a spinal injury. Stuart McDill reports.

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Petra Hes was just 17 when she suffered a stroke. Now scientists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands are helping her walk again with the help of LOPES - the Lower Extremity Powered ExoSkeleton. (SOUNDBITE)(English), PETRA HES, STROKE SURVIVOR SAYING: "I feel my knee is lifting, machine is lifting my knee and that's quite different then my usual walk, cause my knee is very stiff and my steps are not too high then, so I am walking very asymmetric and first time I walked into the LOPES, it was, we call it "A-Ha" moment - so that is how it feels when you walk normal again! I can't remember it," Hes told Reuters strapped to the robot. The robot is designed to help train the body and mind to remember how to walk again after a stroke or a spinal injury, says Edwin Van Asseldonk. (SOUNDBITE)(English), EDWIN VAN ASSELDONK, UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE SAYING: "It's designed to aide physical therapist in providing task-specific and intensive training to neurological patients and those neurological patients can be stroke survivors, spinal injury subjects, maybe even people with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson disease." LOPES can be adjusted depending on how much help a patient needs - and correct what they are doing wrong. (SOUNDBITE)(English), EDWIN VAN ASSELDONK, UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE SAYING: "For walking it's also very important that you maintain your balance while walking and in maintaining balance pretty much what you need is to place your foot on appropriate spot to prevent falling over and by making that movement possible in this device it is also possible to train that balance control while you are walking." In future researchers hope to use data from LOPES to develop a wearable exoskeleton which could help wheelchair users to walk again. Stuart McDill, Reuters

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Robot legs help stroke survivors to walk again

Thursday, December 01, 2011 - 01:48