Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community for January 2018

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: How are robots used in rehabilitation? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss wearable robots to aid in motor rehabilitation after a stroke; robotic devices that assist in the recovery from stroke and spinal cord injuries; robots that help children with severe physical disabilities in play and education; exoskeletons for walking assistance in people with central nervous system injuries; robotic systems that help in gait rehabilitation; humanoid robots with social skills; and brain-computer interfaces that help exoskeletons adapt to each user.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The project Development of a Wearable Robot for Motor Rehabilitation in Acute Stroke (English) (90BISB0001) is developing wearable rehabilitation technology to help people recover from stroke and regain mobility. The results of using this wearable robot include the delivery of early acute rehabilitation with robot therapy in acute care settings and providing intensive robot-assisted therapy for better motor relearning in the early stages after stroke.

The project Machines Assisting Recovery from Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury for Reintegration into Society (MARS3) (English) (90RE5010) evaluates the utility of robotic devices for providing rehabilitation therapy after a neural injury. The Center focuses on seven research and development projects on the use of robots for the restoration of function and return to society through the use of lower-extremity exoskeletons, body-machine interfaces, wheelchair-based upper extremity exercise and propulsion, and wearable aids for fall prevention.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article Robots supporting play for children with physical disabilities: Exploring the potential of IROMEC (English) (J77058) discusses a study that explored the possibilities for applications of the Interactive Social Robotic Mediators as Companions (IROMEC) robot in rehabilitation and special education for children with severe physical disabilities. The results of the study indicated that the existing play scenarios of IROMEC have the potential to support play for children with severe physical disabilities, especially in movement functions, learning and applying knowledge, communication/interpersonal interactions and relationships, and play.

Powered exoskeletons for walking assistance in persons with central nervous system injuries: A narrative review (English) (J75239) is a literature review that highlights the major developments in powered exoskeleton technology. The review focuses on exoskeletons for lower limbs that may encompass the spine and that aim to allow independent upright walking for those who otherwise do not have an option. This article includes a basic description of how the exoskeletons work, a summary of key features, and a discussion of potential clinical applicability.


The article, Robotic systems for gait rehabilitation in neurological disorders (I241744) (Spain), discusses a systematic review that was undertaken to describe and classify the main characteristics of the various robotic systems used for functional rehabilitation of lower limbs. The review revealed a wide variety of robotic devices for lower limb recovery. The authors conclude that the development of these devices should be improved to more closely approximate the physiological movements made by humans when walking and should include factors other than those related to mobility.

The article, Humanoid robots with social skills, an effective therapeutic tool (Ecuador), describes how humanoid robots can be an effective therapeutic tool for different populations. This includes robotic bipeds like NAO, a robot that motivates children with motor disabilities to correctly complete rehabilitation exercises; Teo, a human-sized robot from UC3M that provides social services, can work as an museum guide for the blind; and MiniMaggie, a cute robotic stuffed animal, has begun to be used with the elderly for therapeutic purposes in day centers as part of a UC3M program with Spain’s Alzheimer Foundation.


[A robotic system for gait re-education in patients with an incomplete spinal cord injury] (I110466) (Journal of Neurology – Spain) describes a study that evaluated the changes that take place in the gait of participants with incomplete spinal cord injuries (SCI) who were treated with a robotic walking system in association with conventional therapy. Results showed statistically significant increases in the number of participants capable of walking, walking speed, less need for technical aids, strength in lower limbs, and independence in activities of daily living. Researchers found that using the robotic system in association with conventional therapy improves the walking capacity in participants with incomplete SCI.

The article, Robotic therapy: The Spaniard that teaches exoskeletons to read our minds ( – Spain) describes how Juan C. Moreno, a bioengineer, created a robot that collaborates in the rehabilitation of patients with cerebrovascular disease or an incomplete spinal cord injury. Sensors that measure brain and muscle electrical activity have been combined with algorithms so that the advanced exoskeleton of the international BioMot project adapts to each user and help them to recover their motor skills in a personalized way. The article includes a video.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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