Smart rehabilitation devices are in full swing; an expanding market that has allowed technology to leave research laboratories and enter hospitals and care centres, to support therapists and provide personalised treatment paths both, for the upper and lower limbs.
It is not a question of identifying whether robotic rehabilitation is superior to traditional rehabilitation, but of combining the two aspects. As various scientific studies have shown, the use of co-bots can also help improve a patient’s cognitive as well as motor aspects.
This is decisively a significant turning point, as with the introduction of virtual reality, motor rehabilitation and neurorehabilitation, arrive directly to the patient’s door. Recovery activities through simulated environments, which the patient can access using special portable viewers or in equipped rooms, are in fact increasingly widespread. Compared to other techniques, the “immersive” experience facilitates the execution of assigned tasks because it exploits neuronal plasticity.
An interesting scenario, therefore, which still needs attention and some progress. In particular in there are three aspects we want to highlight. At the regulatory level it is still necessary to define an overall and shared reference framework, which can clarify the many different factor to be taken into consideration, so that these technologies when integrated into a patient’s rehabilitation scheme, offer an effective, stable, safe and acceptable to the user. Furthermore, at an institutional level, considering that robotic performance figures only in four Italian regions, more encouragement is needed. Finally, in the field of training: doctors and physiotherapists are today bewildered by the widespread use of these devices, as these are often not accompanied by more precise clinical indications, an aspect which surely needs to be addressed in future developments.
If the funding and attention of research and institutions continue to be met with a positive patient feedback, the future of rehabilitation and assistive robotics will be bright; being already a reality with great potential: exoskeletons, prostheses, assistive devices and training technologies, are amongst some of the devices which are already improving the lives of many.
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