Developing advanced neuro-robotic solutions for the restoration and assistance of sensory-motor functions
The goal of the NCCR Grand Challenge on Wearable Robotic was to develop a novel generation of wearable robotic systems, which will be more comfortable for patients and more extensively usable in a clinical environment. These new technological solutions will help in the recovery of movement and grasping after cardiovascular accidents and spinal cord lesions. They can be used to enhance physiotherapy by improving training, thus encouraging the brain to repair networks (neurorehabilitation). And they can be used as assistive devices (e.g. prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons) to support paralysed people in daily life situations.
While current wearable robots are making huge advances in the lab, there is some way to go before they become part of everyday life for people with disabilities. In order to be functional, robots must work with the user and not cause damage or irritation (in the case of externally worn devices) or be rejected by the host (in the case of implants), they must have their own energy source that does not need to be constantly plugged in or re-charged, and they need to be affordable.