A collaboration among the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) and 3 other federal agencies aims to accelerate the
development of the next generation of robotics, called corobotics. These
projects include robots that help engineers better design prosthetic legs for
patients with amputation, miniature robot pills that help doctors diagnose and
treat disease, and microrobots that help researchers make artificial tissues.
Along with the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture, NIH will
find 6 projects over the next 4 years. The projects are expected to receive
$4.4 million in funding.
In addition to the below-knee prostheses project, 2 other projects have
implications for the physical therapy profession. The goal of Control of
Powered Segmented Legs for Humanoids and Rehabilitation Robotics is to uncover
the principles behind the biomechanical design and neuromuscular control of
human legs in a variety of gaits and to transfer these principles to the design
and control of powered leg prostheses and robotic rehabilitation devices.
Another proposal, titled Brain Machine Interface Control of a Therapeutic
Exoskeleton, plans to combine a human-robot interface with a noninvasive
brain-machine to allow the patient to use his or her thoughts to control the
movement of the robot to better rehabilitate the upper limb affected by stroke.
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