Ever since it was discovered that the human brain isn’t “hard-wired” and can overcome the paralyzing effects of a stroke or spinal-cord injury with intense rehabilitation, much in the area of robotics has been devoted to restoring limb movement to victims of a stroke or spinal cord injury. The latest, from Rice University in Houston, Texas, appropriately called the “RiceWrist”, was designed to help people with spinal cord injury restore movement in the arm.
The RiceWrist is a fully articulated exoskeleton that mimics the joints of a limb from the shoulder to the hand. It works by assisting the user in performing specific arm movements; any difficulty with moving one’s arm during rehab will cause the RiceWrist to gently kick in and move the arm in the desired direction. RiceWrist monitors the patient’s progress through the entire regimen, adjusts its level of assistance accordingly, and, eventually, will stop assisting altogether as movement improves.
RiceWrist so far has only gone through a single-patient trial, but this one patient, a 24-year old motocross professional who crushed his vertebra in an accident, has shown that the robot has much potential. After only two weeks, the patient was already able to smoothly perform tasks such as turning over cards and picking up coins.
Take a look at the video of RiceWrist in action:
Article from Rice University: ‘RiceWrist’ robot helps spinal-cord injury victim…