Collegium Helveticum
Fellow Project 2023–2024

Integrating Therapists and Robotics for Improved Rehabilitation Outcomes

For more than thirty years, scientists and investors have been working on robotic technology to help people recover from injuries that affect their movement. But in many cases, these machines haven’t proven to be much better than regular therapy in restoring a patient’s abilities. However, robots can make things easier for physical therapists by taking on some of the hard work, allowing therapists to provide more intense and frequent therapy sessions. Usually, therapists oversee the robots, picking and starting different robot movements or actions to help the patient. The physical interactions between the robot and the patient are managed by smart programs that can adapt and change as the patient improves. However, some worry that the repetitive movements of the robots might not help the brain re-learn and adapt as well as human-guided therapy does. Christopher’s project explores whether having therapists control the robots more directly during therapy sessions could be better for patients.