New robot would aid with physical therapy

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A new device designed by student engineers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to aid cerebral palsy or stroke patients with physical therapy made its debut at the Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics last week.

The machine uses computerized robotics, magnets, pulleys and a joystick to guide patients through a series of movements that will help them build strength and recover movement after an illness or accident. Researchers at the university designed the device to relieve physical therapists who spend a great deal of time going over and over tedious and specific motions with patients.

According to professors at the university who worked on the project, current machines designed for physical therapy can be too large or expensive to be practical. This device is portable and relatively inexpensive, costing around $3,000 to make, says mechanical engineering Professor Oren Masory. Researchers have hopes that someday the device will be able to be used in homes as well as facilities.