On Wednesday, a prestigious seminar was held of robot-assisted rehabilitation after stroke, and specifically the RATULS (Robot Assisted Training for the Upper Limb after Stroke) trial.
The guest speaker was Dr Hermano Igo Krebs, Principal Research Scientist and Lecturer at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the USA. He is also a co-investigator on the UK based RATULS trial, and co-founder of the company that make the robots used in RATULS (Interactive Motion Technology).
Dr Hermano Igo Krebs presents his research data.
Dr Krebs is a pioneer in the use of robots for the rehabilitation of human movement and spoke about how far robotics in stroke rehabilitation have come in the last decade. This included how research studies have shown the advantages of using robotics for the upper limb (shoulder, wrist, arm), and which has been endorsed by rehabilitation guidelines (American Heart Association). He explained the neuroscientific basis of rehabilitation of the upper limb after stroke, and the state-of-the-art robotics developed to help achieve this, He also reviewed the progress of robotic rehabilitation of the lower limb after stroke, which although behind that of the upper limb, still holds huge promise.
Dr Helen Bosomworth (Research Associate, Newcastle University) then gave us a short presentation on the RATULS trial in the UK, which is the largest trial of its kind in the world.
Dr Helen Bosomworth explains the RATULS trial
The RATULS trial is comparing the i) use of robotic training of the upper limb after stroke, with ii) an enhanced upper limb therapy programme consisting of repeated practice of everyday activities using the arm and, and ii) usual NHS rehabilitation.
RATULS is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and is taking place at four sites in the UK:
- North Tyneside General Hospital.
- Western Infirmary Glasgow.
- Northwick Park.
- Queens Hospital, Romford.
After the seminar, attendees were then given the exciting opportunity of trying out the robots used in RATULS for themselves.