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Social robots to make kids' physiotherapy more fun

Social robots to make kids' physiotherapy more fun

Ethics committee at the Toledo National Paraplegic Hospital will decide on their clinical efficacy

News came from the Toledo National Paraplegic Hospital on 4 August that a new clinical project might soon be underway, following approval from the establishment’s ethical committee. The trial will involve experiments with so-called ‘social robotics’ devices that will have the task of accompanying, mentoring and assisting children with various neurological limitations to gain better mobility.

The social robots will have a design that is appealing to children, combining artificial intelligence and gamification, in order to make the rehabilitation processes seem less daunting and more fun to a young mind.

The hope is that in the future the robots can be used at home, as well

The sessions with a robot include powerful game exercises that improve concentration, participation and motivation. This makes it possible to turn therapy into a game and, for the little ones, to better follow their prescribed treatment.

"We have seen that the platform is perfectly adapted to these patients and that the therapies can be intensified as much as we want because the robot never tires of repeating the exercises," explained José Carlos Pulido, the CEO of 'Inrobics' – the start-up behind the social robots.

Dr Ángel Gil, head of the Rehabilitation at the hospital, added that another advantage of using this technology is that “it allows professionals to measure the results of therapy. The robot not only shows the movements but also gives instructions on how to execute them well and measures them. Thus, we can objectively quantify and monitor the evolution of the patient”.

The Paraplegic Hospital is not only the first testing ground of this tech approach to therapy. Its experts were also central in the designing of the robot since their knowledge was considered essential. They had to team up with engineers and software developers from Inrobics.

The only thing that is left is to get a green light from the hospital’s ethical committee, which will evaluate the effectiveness of the robots in clinical terms.

The high degree of autonomy of the robot would allow rehabilitation at home, complementing the therapy in the centre. That is because the increase in the frequency of the sessions improves the progress in the treatment of the patient.

For the time being, patients can look forward to a virtual version of the robot, which will be available next year for use at home.

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