ASU Workshop Hopes To Inspire And Increase Use Of Rehabilitation Robotics

on Monday, 23 February 2015. Posted in Press

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ASU Workshop Hopes To Inspire And Increase Use Of Rehabilitation Robotics

February 17, 2015

Professor Marco Santello shows off the SoftHand device.

Engineers are playing a greater role in the field of medicine. A workshop at ASU, now drawing hundreds of professionals, aims to improve interaction between medical practitioners and technology.

Engineers and health workers sometimes have miscommunication. Marco Santello, a professor at ASU said meetings like this are crucial to discuss and design new technology.

“We’re trying to bring as many people from different fields as possible to really make sure that clinicians are not afraid of technology," Santello said. "Almost [as] importantly that people designing technology truly understand the work clinicians do everyday with patients. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap.”

At the workshop, professors and professionals were interacting with researchers. University of Michigan graduate student Suzana Engdal was visiting to present her research.

“So our project is about evaluating interest of individuals with upper-limb loss in surgically invasive prosthetic technologies,” Engdal said.

Engdal herself was missing the lower half of her arms, but was using prosthetics with fingers able to move on nervous command. Santello said the integration of robot-assisted rehabilitation is growing and, while a live doctor or therapist is hard to replace, robots offer some advantages a human can’t.

“When you use a robot interacting a limb, you can also measure the reaction of the limb," Santello said. "Whereas if a human tries to do that, you get a good sense of the stiffness, but you can’t really quantify. You cannot put a number to it.”

While robots may become more of a mainstay in rehabilitation clinics, engineers have yet to replicate the human touch.

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