Posted by: robotnews | April 2, 2007

ALTACRO (Automated Locomotion Training using an Actuated Compliant Robotic Orthosis)

Gait rehabilitation provides locomotion training to people with incomplete spinal cord injuries to recuperate walking capability. Conventional training devices like the body weight support treadmill trainer(BWSTT) involve four physiotherapists to help the patient’s leg and hip motion. Moreover, it makes use of overhead suspension system which compromises comfortability. The existing step rehabilitation robots use bulky conventional electric drives making the joints very stiff. Integration of robotics will increase the efficiency and quality of such therapy.

The ALTACRO, an exoskeleton, is novel step rehabilitation robot and conduct clinical studies to overcome the problems of the systems available. It comprises of a treadmill, a safety linkage mechanism and a robotic orthosis with the hip, knee and ankle joints actuated by PPAM’s. The use of Pleated Pneumatic Artificial Muscle [3] instead of electrical commands distinguishes this system from others. It creates a comfortable human-robot interface giving the rehabilitation process additional functionality. This actuator technology used by ALTACRO has following advantages:
  • The orthosis becomes lightweight and compact.
  • The high power output supports the entire body weight without using an overhead suspension.
  • The ankle joint assistance can be provided to realize normal gait.
  • The actuation system absorbs the spasmodic movements of the patients and with time patients can be given more independence in generating their walking movement
Click here for an animation of ALTACRO. Any patient who can walk again will benefit from this project. For those who will probably never walk again this robot will help limit the detrimental effects of being wheelchair-bound (loss of bone mass, osteoporosis, etc.) The ALTACRO promises better care and a speedier return to mobility.

REFERENCES

  • [1] http://altacro.vub.ac.be/info
    [2] http://www.fondation-altran.org
    [3] Pleated Pneumatic Artificial Muscle (PPAM)

    NAMAN AGARWAL

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    Responses

    1. Seems like a great alternative for manual physical therapy. But I suppose that there will need to be human supervision to ensure the proper functioning of the machine. Another advantage I feel this could possibly have is the reduction of further injury , like slipping or tripping, during rehab. It might be worth considering the degree of difficulty in getting the person into ALTACRO as they suffer from limited mobility and it might be tedious getting all the equipment fitted.

      Karthik Ramaswamy
      U037067L

    2. This sounds like a very interesting and helpful invention. However, I would like to know if it reduces the rehab time as well. Also, what is the price difference between the BWSTT and ALTACRO? I agree with Karthik on the point that it might need time to get the equipment fixed and all. It could also have heart rate and blood pressure monitors which would alter the treadmill speed etc, which would reduce human supervision even more.

      Varun Agarwala U037014W

    3. The project is still in the testing phase and not commercially launched in the market

      Naman Agarwal
      U037020W


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