Robotic devices with the ability to perform more complex tasks on patients are being developed to restore the functionality of the hand. The new project Habilis, developed by Sant’Anna School Biorobotics researchers and rehabilitation medicine doctors of Centro di Riabilitazione Motoria INAIL – Volterra, aims to assist physically disabled people, to ease hand movements and to provide effective rehabilitation therapy.

The three-year project Habilis, will focus on physical rehabilitation in the case of neurologically based disorders or personal injuries as a result of an industrial accident. The project serves a dual purpose: improving patients’ quality of life through technology and reducing the impact of work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (associated with manual handling of heavy loads) which lead to considerable costs for the national health system.

Robot-assisted rehabilitation systems, which are currently being developed, have been proven to be safe and cost effective. In particular, wearable robotic exoskeletons are devices designed to simplify the complex requirements of the upper limb by measuring the patient movement effort and intent. Compared to traditional robotic devices, the exoskeleton-based devices have a mechanical structure that mirrors the skeletal structure of patient’s limb. These new devices for upper limb rehabilitation may provide more effective types of motion assistance as they continually updates estimates of the patient parameters while moving.

Engineers of the Wearable Robotics Laboratory at Sant’Anna School will develop new wearable robotic devices under the supervision of academics Simona Crea, Nicola Vitiello and Maria Chiara Carrozza, with the support of the research team of Centro di Riabilitazione Motoria INAIL- Volterra, under the supervision of Dr. Paolo Catitti and Dr. Elisa Taglione.

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