A rehabilitation robot prototype to help restore deteriorated nerves and muscles using electromyography and computer games. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: Physical therapy is going high tech. This is Luna, a robot designed to help patients with muscle damage rehabilitate. Michal Mikulski of biotech start up Egzotech developed Luna. He says the robot uses electromyography, or EMG, to detect electrical currents in muscle activity. That information, he says, allows the robot to customize a physical therapy regiment for patients. And, he says, the robot can sense muscle damage a human therapist might miss. SOUNDBITE (Polish) ENGINEER AND OWNER OF "EGZOTECH", MICHAL MIKULSKI, SAYING: "We reach a certain stage of disease development...when the muscle tension is not even visible. But these signals can still be seen on our machines, "Luna" is still able to detect them. And based on that, when the brain sends a signal to the muscle to flex, even though we don't see it, Luna is still able to detect it. It detects these signals and causes the movement of the limb, as if it were performed naturally." Physical therapy can be painful, repetitious and tedious, which is why Luna allows patients to play interactive games during sessions. This feature, says Mikulski, is especially useful when treating children. SOUNDBITE (Polish) ENGINEER, OWNER OF "EGZOTECH", MICHAL MIKULSKI, SAYING: "Sometimes it is a spacecraft, sometimes shooting balls, sometimes flying a dragon. In any case, a child wants to win the game, wants to compete, but in fact they are exercising." And by exercising they are healing. Luna is still a prototype but the company hopes to have a friendly robotic physical therapist on the market later this year.