Engineer Dr. Jeff Hawks discusses rehabilitation robots and how they’re revolutionizing the sports therapy occupation.
The medical industry has always relied heavily on technology. Technological advancements are often what influence new surgeries, healing strategies, and other treatments. The field of sports therapy is no different. Recently, engineer Dr. Jeff Hawks discussed rehabilitation robots and how they’re revolutionizing sports therapy.
Some of the biggest changes in medical technology we’ve seen in recent years have been the development of robotics for rehabilitation. Dr. Jeff Hawks stated that rehabilitation using robotics remains a young field, but it’s growing at an exponential rate. That’s because robots can be extremely effective in offering adaptive support and increasing the intensity of the therapy in a completely controlled way. Dr. Jeff Hawks added that a major advantage of using robots for sports therapy rehabilitation is that robots are not prone to the negative effects of human error.
Dr. Jeff Hawks explained that robot rehabilitation is currently a process that involves engineers, clinical neurophysiologists, and sports therapists. All of these professionals work alongside each other to create and implement sports therapy strategies that will aid in a patient’s recovery. Dr. Jeff Hawks added that robot-assisted rehab for sports injuries is advantageous because it provides a standardized environment for the patient. In this environment, intensity can easily be increased and tracked.
“There are so many factors that affect a patient’s rehabilitation in a traditional sports therapy setting,” Dr. Jeff Hawks stated. “For instance, if a patient is practicing sports therapy at home, they may not be following protocols correctly. They may perform exercises without proper form or take extended rests between exercises.”
Dr. Jeff Hawks explains, “Robot-assisted rehabilitation is important to point out feedback to the clinician and the patient. Instant feedback is important. Not only can the proper form and method be ensured, but improvement throughout the protocol can also be tracked.” He described a study in which patients performed therapy movements with their affected limb throughout a 45-minute session. The patients completed about 30 repetitions with the affected limb in a conventional setting. Amazingly, they performed more than 1,000 repetitions in the same time period when using robot-assisted therapy.
Dr. Jeff Hawks stated that this is because the patients are assisted in performing the exercise correctly, consistently, and without distraction.
Dr. Hawks stated, “A big area of rehabilitation robots or assistive devices are for disabled patients (i.e. MS) who need assistance to complete tasks effectively but can’t rehab in traditional ways.” He continued by explaining robot-assisted rehabilitation is simply superior at staying on track and accomplishing the goal at hand.
“Rehabilitation robots are constantly evolving,” Dr. Jeff Hawks finished. “We expect them to revolutionize the sports therapy industry by increasing the effectiveness of the therapy and getting patients back out enjoying the sports they love more quickly.