More than 17 million people and counting in the world have cerebral palsy. One in three of these people cannot walk, one in five cannot talk, one in 10 has a severe vision impairment, and one in 25 has a severe hearing impairment. With the help of the NI platform, these people's lives are expected to improve by using a distributable therapy device developed with LabVIEW software and Single-Board RIO hardware.
The staff at the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospital developed a novel therapeutic game environment for the upper limb rehabilitation of both stroke survivors and children with cerebral palsy. Since the system proved promising in smaller studies, the group pushed for larger national trials. The device needed to be mass producible and suitable for home delivery, assembly, and use to ensure the success of these larger trials. NI Alliance Partner Key Engineering Solutions Limited was asked to help Leeds staff redesign the system to be mass producible, lower cost, and more maintainable.
Originally, the prototype system used CompactRIO hardware and LabVIEW to control the assistive joystick and communicate data back to the game. This was reliable but not cost-effective for mass production. LabVIEW, Single-Board RIO, and two NI 9505 DC servo drive modules were used for the development of this novel rehabilitative technology toward a distributable commercial product.
The short-term trials revealed that cerebral palsy motor function improved with the use of this device. Conducting longer-term trials across the UK would help reaffirm results that were uncovered in short-term trials, which would be a major step toward ensuring the full promise of the rehabilitative technology. This device could be the answer for home-based rehabilitation to help supplement treatment while reducing the burden on trained physiotherapists and the National Health Service.
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