Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Greying Singapore taps robots, games in rehab
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Jan 1, 2012

Six months ago, Singaporean retiree Soon Eng Sam, 70, suffered a stroke that paralysed the left side of his body.

Bedridden for three months, he has regained some limb functions on the affected side through conventional physical therapy but now hopes to hasten his recovery with the help of new gadgets designed to make rehabilitation fun.

"This therapy is not so boring, not so painful as physical therapy, because the machine is assisting me to move my arm up and down and laterally," he said after a recent hour-long session with the "Armeo" robotic arm.

A therapist had to tell Soon to slow down as the former civil servant enthusiastically used his left hand, partly supported by the robotic arm, to catch virtual water droplets with a teacup on a colour monitor.

The machine is among the high-tech exercise stations now being used at the Centre for Advanced Rehabilitation Therapeutics (CART), described by its administrators as the most advanced facility of its kind in Asia.

Medical authorities are deploying the latest technology as fast-greying Singapore prepares for a "silver tsunami" of elderly people as a result of longer life spans and low birth rates.

In two decades, an estimated 20 percent of the population will be 65 years or older, compared to 9.3 percent at present.

To better prepare themselves for the demographic explosion, hospitals in the affluent city-state of five million people are using the latest available technology to augment its limited pool of health personnel.

Chan Kay Fei, head of Rehabilitation Medicine at the government-run Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which houses CART, said therapists on their own "cannot meet this rising need of the ageing population".

"So technology, I feel, could be the multiplier," Chan said, adding that both therapists and patients benefit from the increasing use of robotic equipment and videogame-inspired software.

"Robotics reduce or eliminate physical loading upon our therapists. It creates an interesting and interactive environment which offers consistency and objectivity to the treatment programme," he said.

Using the machines, therapists are able to precisely monitor the patient's progress and calibrate the machines accordingly.

The "Lokomat" gait trainer shows a movie-like avatar, controlled by the patient's movements, walking around a virtual world collecting medals.

Such machines are particularly suited for countries with rapidly ageing populations, said Bala Rajaratnam, a lecturer at the School of Health Sciences at Nanyang Polytechnic.

"It allows therapists to use smart technology to both empower clients to take control over their recovery as well as maximise therapy time," he said.

Future physical therapists at Bala's school also use videogame machines such as the Nintendo Wii to help patients recover more quickly than they would using conventional methods.

Other medical institutions in Singapore such as KK Women's and Children's Hospital as well as Changi General Hospital are also using videogames as part of their repertoire of therapy.

"The targeted patient population includes people with neurological conditions such as stroke, acquired brain injury and Parkinson's Disease," said Jean Tan, a senior physiotherapist at Changi.

"Any patients with balance deficits and decreased arm function will also benefit from these games."

Younger patients, including accident victims and those with congenital motor problems, also benefit from therapy robots and videogames.

Kankipati Rajan Raju, 45, an Indian banker who was paralysed from the neck down after being hit by a bus during a business trip to France in May, said technology is a boon to people like him but the human factor is still more crucial than machines.

Six months after the accident, Raju can walk on his own, shake hands and even do short jumps, a "miracle" he attributes to medical personnel as well as a healthy dose of robotics and virtual reality.

"The technology assists you, but the therapists have made the difference," he said after a session at CART.


Related Links
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

New system may one day steer microrobots through blood vessels for disease treatment
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 20, 2011
Microscopic-scale medical robots represent a promising new type of therapeutic technology. As envisioned, the microbots, which are less than one millimeter in size, might someday be able to travel throughout the human bloodstream to deliver drugs to specific targets or seek out and destroy tumors, blood clots, and infections that can't be easily accessed in other ways. One challenge in the ... read more

NASA's Twin Grail Spacecraft Reunite in Lunar Orbit

Two NASA probes both in lunar orbit

Lockheed Martin Helps Nasa Place Two Spacecraft Into Lunar Orbit

Moon mission on the horizon

Mars Rover Opportunity Positioned at Candidate Site for Winter

Arvidson To Be Participating Scientist on New Mars Rover

Wheel Passes Checkup After Stalled Drive

Meteorite Shock Waves Trigger Dust Avalanches on Mars

Voyager Goes Where No Human-Made Vehicle Has Gone Before

Navy Researchers Investigate Small-Scale Autonomous Planetary Explorers

India lags China in research, complains PM

Chairman says Samsung to focus on new products

Getting ready for challenges of space

China sets up state-level aerospace research institute

China issues white paper on space exploration

China makes rapid progress, breakthroughs in space industry: white paper

New crew arrives at international space station

NASA 'Smart SPHERES' Tested on ISS

Russia sends multinational crew to ISS

As Soyuz Rolls ISS Crew Work On Science

SSC supports simultaneous launch of Elisa, Pleiades 1A and SSOT

Orbcomm and SpaceX Improve Launch Plans for OG2 Satellites

Orbcomm Prepares For Launch Of Second AIS Satellite

Arianespace Completes 2012 With Soyuz Launch Partner Mission For Globalstar

Subaru's Sharp Eye Confirms Signs of Unseen Planets in the Dust Ring of HR 4796 A

New Exo planets raise questions about the evolution of stars

Astronomers discover deep-fried planets

Two new Earth-sized exoplanets discovered

SSTL tests TechDemoSat-1 plasma population payload

Latest Apple iPhone to hit China on January 13

The art of molecular carpet-weaving

1.4 million orders for world's cheapest tablet in India

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement