To that end the researchers have created a new Anklebot, and on July 1, MIT and the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center established a Center of Excellence on Task-Oriented Exercise and Robotics in Neurological Diseases to further such work on lower extremity movement.
"This heralds a transition of therapeutic robotics from research to practice, similar to when computers went from being specialized number-crunchers for engineering and science to the ubiquitous consumer appliances for word-processing and presentation that we use today," said MIT Professor Neville Hogan, a principal investigator in the work who holds appointments in mechanical engineering and brain and cognitive sciences.
The researchers also discussed several aspects of their work at the International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR) held June 28 through July 1 in Chicago.
Hermano Igo Krebs, co-principal investigator and a principal research scientist in mechanical engineering, said, "It appears that we are at the cusp of a revolution in the way rehabilitation medicine is practiced, and therapeutic robotics is at center stage. "The focus of the new center is to accelerate the pace of this revolution using a multisystems approach for the recovery of stroke patients' gait, investigating models of neurological plasticity [the brain's ability to adapt], cardiovascular fitness, therapeutic robotics and behavioral modifications." Krebs is also affiliated with the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and the Burke Medical Research Institute.