Harmony Rehab Exoskeleton Helps People Recover From Spinal Injuries

It can be very difficult for people who suffer from spinal and neurological injuries to get better and regain all functionality. Getting better often involves lots of rehabilitation with therapists and doctors along with months or years of work. Researchers from the UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering have created a new robotic exoskeleton that is designed to help people recover faster from injuries.

The robotic exoskeleton has two arms and uses mechanical feedback along with sensor data to deliver therapy to patients using the system. The Harmony exoskeleton has been in development since 2011 and is a collaboration between mechanical engineering researcher Ashish Deshpande and graduate students at the Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Robotics lab.

The system is able to provide full upper body therapy with natural motion to allow patients to relearn how to do simple tasks like get dressed and eat by themselves. The exoskeleton has 14 axes of movement and a shoulder joint that allows natural and coordinated movement.

The exoskeleton supports tunable pressure and force allowing it to feel weightless when worn. The researchers working on the project hope that it will one day be able to reduce recovery times for injured people and provide customized care. The project is moving from the building phase to trials on healthy subjects in June.

SOURCE: Gizmag