Early intervention and intensive therapy improve outcome of neuromuscular disorder rehabilitation. However, a major problem is posed by currently largely still non-patient-specific methods used for diagnosis and therapy. Evidence indicates that where patie nt is motivated and premeditates his movement, the recovery is more effective and intelligent machines allow a broad scope to investigate these conditions. The MIMARS project addresses an interdisciplinary field in that it considers the integration of di fferent disciplines including robotics, sensor integration, virtual reality, modelling of dynamic systems and biomedical engineering for the design of a novel multimodal rehabilitation device for upper extremities. The robotics and automation technology wi ll be applied to assist, enhance, evaluate, and document neurological and orthopaedic rehabilitation. The main part of the system will be a rehabilitation robot in close interaction with the human to support spatial movements of the shoulder and elbow join ts. Model-based impedance control will enable the patient¿s effort being taken into consideration by allowing the machine to comply with forces exerted by the patient. The interaction will be enhanced through a multimodal display based on a virtually gener ated environment. Virtual reality has the potential to provide descriptive and practical information for medical training and therapy while relieving the patient and therapist. Multimodal interactions between the user and the virtual environment facilitate the generation of high-fidelity sensory impressions, by using not only visual and auditory modalities, but also kinaesthetic and tactile. Functional electrical therapy will be used in combination with the rehabilitation device to provide additional suppor t. Externally applied electrical stimuli provide not only movement but also provoke strong sensory input, which could be responsible for the changes in the organization of impaired sensory-motor mechanisms.
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