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Rehab robot leads to better patient health

A rehabilitation robot that can fast-track patient recovery time and maximise staff time in regional areas. ...

ROBERT is a neurorehabilitation robot owned by Queensland start-up, Innovative Rehab Technologies.

A one-of-a-kind in Australia, ROBERT offers both lower and upper limb robotic rehab assistance to aid recovery and achieve better patient outcomes.

The robot is on trial with a major Queensland hospital to determine its value to staff and patients.

Owner of Innovative Rehab Technologies Daniel Carter says the exposure they have received through their Membership with ARM Hub has helped to fast-track their success.

Why we need robots like ROBERT

Australia faces a notable shortage of therapists to undertake patient rehabilitation. This scarcity is more pronounced in regional and remote areas, which is significantly impacting the delivery of healthcare services.

Innovative Rehab Technologies founder Dan Carter says the shortage means patients can’t access the high doses of therapy they need to recover.

“High-dose, intensive therapy is required during neurorehabilitation to help patients recover their movement effectively. As an example, stroke patients may need to undertake 300 repetitions of one movement alone as part of their therapy. Currently, most people are only doing 50 repetitions per day,” Mr Carter said.

Benefits

Made in Denmark by Life Science Robotics, ROBERT is a mobile upper and lower limb rehabilitation robot that allows clinicians to deliver high repetition therapy to help with neurological rehabilitation and reduce deconditioning during hospital stays.

Robots like ROBERT allow a service to deliver hundreds of repetitions of controlled functional movements each day which would otherwise not be possible without extreme staffing pressure.

Because it is mobile, ROBERT can be used throughout a hospital, on wards, in rehabilitation, or with outpatients. It is also simple to set up which allows allied health assistants and nurse to potentially be active in delivering care to patients, freeing up physiotherapists and occupational therapists to treat more patients.

It is the only unit available that provides EMG triggered functional electrical stimulation to assist in movement therapy. This is key to optimising patient treatment as therapy can be started very early when they only have “flickers” of muscle activation. The unit senses these flickers and then stimulates that muscle to activate while the robot assists them on a path of movement programmed by the therapist.

“Robert is not replacing jobs. Rather, the robot is part of a strategy to help workforce sustainability and efficiency,” Mr Carter said.

Hospital trial

Innovative Rehab Technologies was approached by the Queensland hospital to trial the robot with staff for one month with a view to purchasing their own ROBERT.

Over the month, ROBERT will be used by the staff to assess how well it can perform functional movements with patients and also see how easy it will be to integrate into their current service model.

Once completed, it will begin a new trial at a facility on the Sunshine Coast.

Innovative Rehab Technologies and parent company Life Science Robotics have also been approached by a world leader in occupational therapy and rehabilitation research to collaborate on a research project to further develop the upper limb software with them.

How ROBERT the Robot works

ROBERT can be attached to a patient’s upper or lower limb. The therapist can then press a button and program a specific movement, such as bringing a glass up to the patient’s mouth.

They then set how many repetitions the patient must perform and whether they do the movement assisted by the robot, actively with the robot just supporting the weight of the limb, or with resistance.

Multiple different movements and sets / reps can be programmed into a treatment session that the patient can then undertake with supervision while the clinician treats other patients nearby.

About Innovative Rehab Technologies

Innovative Rehab Technologies joined the ARM Hub as a Start-up Member in September 2023.

Founded by Dan and Mel Carter, the couple jointly purchased Robert with Stable Orthopaedics for release in Australia.

“The trials are a big step forward for us as we expected it to take some time before we were able to attract industry attention,” Mr Carter said.

“It is through the ARM Hub that we have been visible to industry, which has cut the time taken for us to enter the market from years to six months.”