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Physical Therapy Robots – Athletes, say hello Doc Bot

Well the time has come. The world is soon to be taken over by robots.

Ok, maybe not quite. But, robots have come a long way from being a mysterious character in an old science fiction film.

Today robots are being used to drive cars, pilot trains, and even help athletes with their physical therapy treatment. Seriously, physical therapy robots are in development and being tested today for a number of treatments such as stroke therapy and pediatric therapy.

Michelle Johnson, Phd, from Penn Medicine, has headed up the research behind these robots but other doctors are working on developing their own robots as well.

What is a Physical Therapy Robot?

According to Wikipedia, a robot is:

A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer—capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.

In physical therapy, these robots are leveraging their ability to help stroke victims with their motor skill rehabilitation. The field of study is referred to as rehabilitation robotics.

Rehabilitation robotics is a field of research dedicated to understanding and augmenting rehabilitation through the application of robotic devices.

These robots are currently effective in helping stroke victims with their PT rehab exercises. Patients tolerate the exercises well and are producing good results. However, the bots are currently costing about $30,000 to develop. So, the costs need to come down before these bots become mainstream.

Youtube has a few videos of these robots in action. Just search “physical therapy robot” or “rehabilitation robots”.

Stroke patients are not the only PT patients who will benefit from these robots. Pediatric PT robots are also being developed to aid children with their PT exercises.

Conclusion

Ok, so here are the takeaways about physical therapy robots:

  • PT Robots are being developed to assist stroke victims with their rehab
  • Currently PT Robots are being found effective in treatment but are too expensive to mass produce
  • PT Robots won’t completely replace humans, but they will assist stroke patients with their rehab exercises in ways that humans can’t

If you’re a student and wondering what an interesting major would be, I’d recommend PT or a 2-year PTA program if you like technology and sports or healthcare. This field is making technological leaps and bounds and should be very interesting for anyone who likes tech and sports.

What do you think about physical therapy robots? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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