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Abstract

Rehabilitation robotics is a research area, originating in engineering, that has emerged in the last decade. Its broad aim is to use robot technology to assist people with movement dysfunction. The neurologically impaired population might gain considerably from the provision of robots as “assistants” or “therapy aides,” but the interface with the machine must match both the physical and intellectual abilities of the user. We therefore consider a multidisciplinary approach, encompassing both behavioral and engineering perspectives, to be essential in achieving this aim. However, to date, published reports have been largely restricted to engineering journals or conference reports, and relatively little has appeared in the therapy literature. This article seeks to introduce physical therapists to robotics, describe possible applications to the rehabilitation of neurologically impaired patients, and suggest issues deserving further investigation.

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