Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Robots should help patients with movement therapy

Greifswald (dpa/mv) - Greifswald scientists are currently testing the use of robots modeled on humans in the treatment of stroke patients.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Robots should help patients with movement therapy

Greifswald (dpa/mv) - Greifswald scientists are currently testing the use of robots modeled on humans in the treatment of stroke patients. While more and more people are being affected by the consequences of a stroke and need intensive training to reduce movement restrictions, for example, there are not enough therapists, explained project manager Thomas Platz on Tuesday at a virtual press conference. "Maybe the humanoid robot is a solution," said the neurologist at the University Medicine Greifswald.

In Greifswald, two 1.20 meter tall robots clad in white plastic are used. With their large, dark eyes, they observe the patients doing their exercises, give instructions and assessments, and gesture with their arms. According to Platz, they have extensive patient and therapy knowledge and are able to learn thanks to artificial intelligence.

"The robot is cool," said patient Manja Dube. She feels like someone is sitting across from her. The 39-year-old has problems with the dexterity of her right hand after suffering a stroke several years ago. She trained with the robot for an hour each day for several days and, for example, stacked small wooden blocks on top of each other. Your occupational therapist does not have time for such intensive training. In their opinion, a combination with human therapists would be ideal. She is one of twelve patients who have already trained with the robots.

Platz made it clear that the robots should not replace therapists. They would have to make therapy decisions, for example. The research suggests that human-like robots gain better access to humans than, say, a simple screen with a face. Together with a similar project in Israel, they are pioneers in this type of application.

Computer scientists from the University of Rostock and scientists from the field of health economics and medical management at the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences are also involved in the project. For around three years, the research network has been working on possibilities for digitization in rehabilitation after a stroke. The state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is providing two million euros from the European Social Fund (ESF). The researchers are looking for people in the Greifswald region who are in rehabilitation after a stroke to take part in the study.

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