Building muscles while playing computer games
Researchers from The University of Auckland have developed advanced rehabilitation devices to help stroke patients strengthen their muscles while at the same time playing computer games.
“The main goal is not to play the game but to stimulate the patient’s interest so while they are playing the computer game they gain muscle strength, says Professor Shane Xie from the Faculty of Engineering.
Professor Xie, and other researchers from the University, have developed two types of wearable exoskeleton devices for stroke patients, one for gait rehabilitation and the other for upper limb rehabilitation. They have also developed a wearable ankle robot to aid in the rehabilitation of ankle sprains.
The devices have been tested on people with and without disabilities, and the next stage is to run more clinical trials involving stroke patients.
Professor Xie, will talk about the rehabilitation devices and his other research during his inaugural professorial lecture, Biomechatronic technology for the future of healthcare, at the Faculty of Engineering’s Technologies for Health research event tomorrow night.
Professor Peter Xu, Chair in Mechatronics, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will also give his inaugural lecture Mechatronics for Innovative Smart Medical Devices at the event.
Professor Xie, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is the University’s first ever Chair in Biomechatronics. Biomechatronics is the interdisciplinary study of biology, mechanics, electronics, software and control. It focuses on the interactivity of biological organs with electromechanical devices and systems.
Professor Xie is head of the University’s Medical and Rehabilitation Robotics Research Group where the rehabilitation devices and robot technology is being developed.
“Our research is targeted at people whose strength and coordination has been affected by amputation, stroke, cerebral palsy, or aging. We believe appropriate mechanical assistance can not only restore function but enhance performance beyond typical human limits, he says.
Professor Xie says the rehabilitation devices improve people’s mobility and their quality of life.
“Even 20 years after a stroke a person can gain mobility through rehabilitation exercises,” he says.
Professor Xie’s other research areas include surgical robotics for brain and orthopaedic surgery.
The Faculty of Engineering has a strong focus on developing devices and technologies to improve healthcare in the community. The Technologies for Health research event will be hosted by The Dean of Engineering Professor Michael Davies.
Before and after the inaugural lectures there will be an exhibition of Technologies for Health research, including information on vocal tract modelling, nanoindentation of biological material and mechanobiology of musculoskeletal tissues.
Technologies for Health - Inaugural lectures and showcase of new technologies
The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering
Date/time: Thursday 2 August 2012, 5.30 -7pm (showcase 5.30-5.45pm and 7 to 7.30pm)
Venue: Lecture Theatre 1.439, Building 401, Faculty of Engineering, 20 Symonds Street, Auckland.