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FDA Approve S Robotic Device to Help Stroke Patients

Robotic devices, that help stroke patients practise daily tasks with impaired limbs, are proliferating in US .

The US Food and Administration has approved a new robotic device called the Myomo e100, designed to help stroke patients regain motion in their arms. It is to hit the market shortly.

Worn as an arm brace, the device works by sensing weak electrical activity in patients arm muscles and providing just enough assistance that they can complete simple exercises, like lifting boxes or flipping on light switches. By practicing such tasks, patients may begin to relearn how to extend and flex the arm, rebuilding and strengthening neurological pathways in the process.

The device is designed to help get patients over a functional hump so they can start moving the weakened arm again, said John McBean, a mechanical engineer who developed the technology with Kailas Narendran, an electrical engineer and computer scientist.

(The two began the project in 2002, in a graduate robotics class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T).)

And the more they are able to use the arm, the more improvement they begin to see, McBean continued. So its a virtuous cycle.

This is an area thats exploding, said Hermano Igo Krebs, a principal research scientist at M.I.T. and one of the first scientists to envision robot-assisted therapy for stroke patients and others with brain injuries and neurological disorders.

There are now a hundred groups around the world working on this. In 5 to 10 years, I expect well see these kinds of devices in all major clinics and rehab hospitals in the developed world, and even in patients homes.

Some 700,000 US citizens suffer strokes every year. Of these, some 500,000 require therapy for problems with language, memory or movement. It is the last aspect that is the focus of M.I.T. robots.

When Mary ORegan of Massachusetts first tried the Myomo device,
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