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Robot-Aided Neurorehabilitation: A Pediatric Robot for Ankle Rehabilitation

Robot-Aided Neurorehabilitation: A Pediatric Robot for Ankle Rehabilitation

Author Name: 

K.P. Michmizos, S. Rossi, E. Castelli, P. Cappa, H.I. Krebs

Publication Type: 
Journal Publications
IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Publication Date: 
March, 2015

This paper presents the pediAnklebot, an impedance-controlled low-friction, backdriveable robotic device developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that trains the ankle of neurologically impaired children of ages 6-10 years old. The design attempts to overcome the known limitations of the lower extremity robotics and the unknown difficulties of what constitutes an appropriate therapeutic interaction with children. The robot's pilot clinical evaluation is on-going and it incorporates our recent findings on the ankle sensorimotor control in neurologically intact subjects, namely the speed-accuracy tradeoff, the deviation from an ideally smooth ankle trajectory, and the reaction time. We used these concepts to develop the kinematic and kinetic performance metrics that guided the ankle therapy in a similar fashion that we have done for our upper extremity devices. Here we report on the use of the device in at least nine training sessions for three neurologically impaired children. Results demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in the performance metrics assessing explicit and implicit motor learning. Based on these initial results, we are confident that the device will become an effective tool that harnesses plasticity to guide habilitation during childhood.