Engineering soft robots for paradigm shift in rehabilitation

Tim Gatautis suffered a spinal cord injury in a swimming accident nearly a decade ago and he's had to use a wheelchair ever since. Gatautis would like to be able to do more for himself, which brings him to the Wyss Institute and the Biodesign Lab in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Gatautis is testing out new, wearable robotic devices designed for hand and arm rehabilitation and the experience is making him feel much more hopeful about living more independently. That's one of the goals of designer roboticist Conor Walsh. With support from the National Science Foundation, Walsh and his team are developing lightweight, soft, wearable robots that people can wear all day, every day to help them regain use of their upper extremities. Walsh wants to shift the paradigm of rehabilitation from one where the therapist manipulates the fingers and thumb through some range of motion to one where a soft robotic glove can help the patient do the work themselves.

Provided by National Science Foundation

Runtime: 3:54

More Science Nation videos

Get Science360's video of the day in your mailbox each weekday.

Sign up now!