Almost 1/3 of the elderly suffer from a walking disability due to poor walking balance. Meanwhile, general healthy people who age 65 or over will fall 0.65 times per year and this rate doubles among people older than 75 years. The poor walking balance and fear of falling limit the mobility of the elderly and thus cause degeneration of their body health and living quality.
At the same time, the degeneration of the human balance control happens in many pathologies such as neurological insults (e.g. head injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.), musculoskeletal problems and vestibular deficits.
MRBA (Mobile Robotic Balance Assistance) is a fall prevention and mobility enhancement solution to target this problem. It is able to assist both standing and walking balance in both home and clinical environments. Meanwhile, it is a transformable robot that can be transformed into a wheelchair and allow people to use it as a mobility device for long-distance traveling.
TECHNOLOGY FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS
MRBA consists of a follow-me robotic wheelchair and a balance assistive robotic arm which provides body weight support and balance support to the user. The choice of using a powered wheelchair as a base platform allows the user to perform long-distance traveling and a wide variety of activities of daily living (ADL) at home with only one piece of mobility aid. MRBA has four modes of operations:
· Sitting mode: In the sitting mobility mode, it performs the basic functions of a powered wheelchair.
· Transfer mode: The sit to stand mechanism of the seat provides assistance to the user during the transition from sitting to standing mobility mode.
· Following mode: The wheelchair is capable of following the user’s movement by tracking the user's movements.
· Balance Mode: The balance assistive robotic arm compliantly follows the user and does not hinder the natural movement of the user when the user is walking normally. Actuation will be provided to the user when the fall detection algorithm detects falls from the balance assistive mechanism.
MRBA is a transformable robotic wheelchair that can both function as an electrical wheelchair and a walking and balance the assistive robot.
It can be used as a rehabilitation robot in rehabilitation centers, where it can dramatically reduce the workload on the therapist by providing autonomous fetching and transporting patients to the training gym, provide sit to stand assistance and provide balance assistance during walking training.
Meanwhile, it can also be combined with an exoskeleton device to enhance the balance and free the patient’s hands when using exoskeleton for rehabilitation training.
Last but not the least, MRBA can be used as an assistive robot at home. With MRBA, people with walking disabilities can safely stand and walk inside the house which enables them to perform a wide range of ADLs. Moreover, it can be used as a wheelchair to allow users to go outside and further improves their ability to connect to society.
· Prevent falls during standing or walking
· Improve mobility and balance function
· Enable participation in activities of daily living (ADLs)
· Improve bone health, skeletal health and blood circulation
· Reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers
· Provide numerous psychological benefits
· Improve healthcare giver’s working efficiency when used as a rehabilitation device in clinical environment