Researchers envision a day when robots will become standard equipment in rehabilitation centers, giving stroke patients — and possibly patients with spinal cord injuries — a chance to take their recovery further than previously possible. The KineAssist, just one of a legion of smart machines poised to bring physical therapy into the high-tech age, was developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It is essentially a hip brace and harness that connects to a rolling bank of wires and motors. With the robot in place, a patient can repeat a motion more than 1,500 times in 45 minutes. The sheer repetition seems to sear the routine into the brain, which gradually learns to compensate for stroke damage.
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