08 April, 2015
Recovering strength and movement after an injury often involves physical therapy. Physical therapists help patients with brain or bone injuries regain control of their muscles. Exercising muscles is an important part of the rehabilitation process. Therapists use balls and boards to improve balance, stretchy bands to increase strength and other exercises.
But a Polish technology company Egzotech has developed a robot called Luna, to make those exercises interactive. Luna can help therapists choose the best exercises for their patients. The robot also provides therapists with information about their patients' progress.
Luna uses electromyography, or EMG, to identify electrical currents as patients bend their arms or legs. Michal Mikulski is the chief executive officer of Egzotech. He says detecting muscle tension not immediately visible to the human eye can help therapists design better exercises.
"We reach a certain stage of disease development...when the muscle tension is not even visible. But these signals can still be seen on our machines. Luna is still able to detect them. And based on that, when the brain sends a signal to the muscle to flex, even though we don't see it, Luna is still able to detect it. It detects these signals and causes the movement of the limb, as if it were performed naturally."
Luna can also make therapy fun for children who often get bored with repeated movements. Luna permits them to play games without knowing that they are exercising their muscles.
"Sometimes it is a spacecraft, sometimes shooting balls, sometimes flying a dragon. In any case, a child wants to win a game, wants to compete, but in fact they are exercising."
Luna is just a prototype. But Egzotech expects to have other robots ready for sale later this year.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Marveline Dandin reported this story from Washington. Jonathan Evans wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
physical therapy – n. the treatment of a disease or an injury of the muscles or joints with massage, exercises, heat, etc.
prototype – n. an original or first model of something from which other forms are copied or developed
rehabilitate – v. to bring someone or something back to a normal, healthy condition after an illness, injury, drug problem, etc.