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Personalized Robot Helpers Motivate Rehab Patients

Personalized Robot Helpers Motivate Rehab Patients

December 7, 2017

Medical Research, Robotics & High-Tech

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News – Robotic helpers may be the rehabilitation wave of the future, but they won’t motivate patients unless they’re able to mimic human movements, according to new research.

Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek

A team of BGU researchers set out to test user preferences when interacting with a robot during a movement-related task. The idea behind the robots is to encourage rehabilitation patients to practice their therapy routines, while tracking progress.

Study participants were observed while playing a “follow the leader” type game with the robot, which would perform tasks like dribbling a ball or tracing a circle.

The results, published recently in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, found that human participants were likely to mimic the movements of the robot, whether they were jerky or smooth.

Shir Kashi interacts with a robotic arm in BGU’s Cognition, Aging and Rehabilitation Lab, Department of Physical Therapy.

However, those who played the game preferred when the robot made smoother, more human-like movements.

“Knowing how the human subjects preferred to interact with the robot will help guide future development of robots for use in rehabilitation,” says lead researcher Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek, head of the Cognition, Aging and Rehabilitation Lab in BGU’s Department of Physical Therapy and a member of the University’s Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience.

“People feel that if robots don’t move like they do, it is unsettling and they will use them less frequently.”

The study also revealed that human participants had no real preference of whether they themselves or the robot played the role of the “leader” during the mirroring activity.

“This finding highlights the importance of developing personalized human-robot interactions,” Dr. Levy-Tzedek explains.

Read more on the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News website >>