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  • NIH to Fund Research on Robotic Ankle Exoskeletons for Patients Recovering From Stroke

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has announced a $2.4 million funding program focused on the development of robotic technologies, including a project to help researchers evaluate designs for ankle "exoskeletons" for patients recovering from stroke.

    Titled "Novel Platform for Rapid Exploration of Robotic Ankle Exoskeleton Control," the research will attempt to establish a way to consistently test controls and designs used in powered braces and other devices. The design research was 1 of 3 areas to be funded; NIH will also back research on the development of a "co-robotic cane" for people with visual impairments, and the creation of a robotic catheter that could adjust for heart movement and blood flow when patients are undergoing procedures to treat atrial fibrillation.

    The awards mark the second year of NIH's participation in the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), a commitment among multiple federal agencies to support the development of a new generation of robots that work cooperatively with people, known as co-robots. NRI has issued an announcement for research applications in 2014, and NIH says it is interested particularly in proposals that support the development of assistive robotic technology to achieve functional independence in humans, improve quality of life, assist with behavioral therapy and personalized care, and promote wellness/health.

    APTA offers information on the use of technology in patient care, and has produced podcasts on robotics in physical therapy.

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