Robots might not yet have taken over the world, but that does not mean they aren’t doing anything about it at the moment. If you’re thinking of cybernetic enhancements for a better life, then you’re right – the LOPES therapeutic robot that you see above is able to perform all of the walking for you, but others who feel that they should do some of the walking themselves can set the level of ‘help’ that they receive.
Scientists over in the Netherlands are working on the implementation of robotic legs in order to improve the movement of stroke patients. Known as Lower-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton in full, LOPES will train the body and mind of a patient to recover a more natural step. It is also undergoing tests on spinal injury patients who have recovered a bit of restricted movement in their legs.
Just how does LOPES work? It can not only walk on behalf of the patient, it is also smrat enough to offer targeted support for a selected leg or element, while finding out what the patient is doing wrong so that the proper corrections can be made.
Of course, patients hope that a commercial version of LOPES will soon be able to roll out and made available to rehabilitation centres worldwide soonest possible – with a 2012 date being a target.