Today, a team led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, has published a pilot study in Science Robotics that demonstrates a robotic training method that improves posture and walking in children with crouch gait by enhancing their muscle strength and coordination.
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Designing Robots to Help Overcome Effects of Neurological Disorders
Many children are fascinated by robots, and those who recently tried out a new robotic technology in Sunil Agrawal’s lab are no different. But these children have cerebral palsy, and the robotic technology they tested helped improve their balance and mobility.
Robotic exoskeletons that deliver superhuman strength or endurance are no longer just the stuff of science fiction, video games, or blockbuster movies. Instead, these intelligent machines are being developed to rehabilitate and assist people in accomplishing everyday tasks.
Some six million people in the U.S. suffer from scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine. These include approximately 2 to 3% of adolescents who are diagnosed each year with idiopathic scoliosis, which is usually identified during puberty and progresses until skeletal maturity. One in 500 children today require treatment using spine braces and 1 in 5,000 need spinal surgery.