The objective of the new IEEE-RAS Technical Committee on Rehabilitation Robotics is to provide the IEEE-RAS with an effective tool for promoting this flourishing research field, by favouring the exchange among researchers, not only from the robotic but also from the medical community, through focussed events and publications. First workshops are planned to be organized at ICRA 2004 and IROS 2004, as well as at the BioRob Conference, to which the proposed TC intends to contribute significantly.
The goal of Rehabilitation Robotics is to investigate the application of robotics in motor therapy procedures for recovering motor control and motor capabilities in persons with impairment following such diseases as stroke, as well as to develop robotic and mechatronic technical aids for independent living for disabled and elderly people.
The recent advances of rehabilitation procedures, methodologies and tools tends to include more and more the cognitive aspects of motor control, also exploiting the new technologies for brain imaging, which allows to ‘close the loop' from brain to action. This gives an increased role to robotics, which can be fruitfully employed in the rehabilitation of neuro-motor functions and motor capabilities, by providing tools that are in their nature flexible and programmable and that allow to set and assess procedures quantitatively. Robotic tools have been effectively applied not only to motor rehabilitation but also to support the psychological enrichment of the elderly.
At the same time, the development of assistive technology for the disabled and the elderly, after a period of a slow but steady scientific progress, seems to be mature for new research and application break-throughs by combining human-centred design methodologies with integrated micro-mechatronic and robotic systems. New important research projects in this field have been recently launched both at academic and industrial level worldwide, e.g. in Europe , Japan and Korea .
The growing interest in this area of robotics research is shown worldwide by the success of focused publications and events, like the special issue on rehabilitation robotics of the journal “Autonomous Robots” (2003), the ICORR conference (International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics), held biannually and the special sessions organized at latest ICRA, IROS, ICAR. The new event promoted by the RAS jointly with the EMBS, the BioRob Conference (International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics), explicitly includes rehabilitation robotics among the main topics.
H. F. Machiel Van der Loos, PhD
Rehabilitation R&D Center
VA Medical Center
3801 Miranda Ave., MS 153
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1200
650/493-5000 ext 6-5971
Eugenio Guglielmelli, PhD
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Coordinator of the ARTS Lab
Advanced Robotics Technology & Systems Laboratory
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Piazza Martiri della Liberta', 33
56127 - Pisa, Italy
Takanori Shibata, Ph.D.
AIST - Intelligent Systems Institute
All IEEE RAS members are welcome to send their comments, suggestions, contributions to the TC activities and/or to register, by sending an e-mail message to: TCRehaRob@mail-arts.sssup.it