Research into rehabilitation technology
Did you know? Research into rehabilitation technologies is a key focus of our work here at the University of Southampton's Faculty of Health Sciences' Rehabilitation and Health Technologies research group.
This research crosses the boundaries between clinical science, engineering, neuroscience, biomechanical research, sport science, psychology and sociology, making it truly interdisciplinary.
Our research fellows and staff devote much of their time and resources to developing and testing ground breaking assistive technologies that are designed to improve future performance of healthcare teams who specialise in rehabilitation.
As you might imagine, fully understanding the physiological and biomechanical mechanisms that are characteristic of both normal and impaired function is central to our work.
Through clinical trials and close collaboration with providers of healthcare, our researchers have already managed to translate financially feasible rehabilitation technologies into everyday clinical practice.
A prime example of our rehabilitation technologies research is our work to help improve reach and grasp skills in stroke patients. Through this project we are developing a way of stimulating the nerves electrically in order to make the muscles move.
Participants will do this either with their arm resting in a robot or reaching and grasping everyday objects. The particularly clever bit is the level and timing of the stimulation, which is adjusted in accordance with performance on the previous movement. This is exactly the same way the brain learns skills like playing sports, for example - by correcting errors.
This approach is called Iterative Learning Control (ILC), and has been used in industrial processes like car building. Although not new, this is the first time ILC has been used to assist stroke patients in recovering movement by being used as rehabilitation technology.
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If you have found this article interesting and would like to know more about our work to develop Rehabilitation Technology
, please visit our website: www.southampton.ac.uk/rht
Submitted on: 2014-09-28 12:45:56