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From HTA preliminary analysis of rehabilitation robots to next grand research challenges

Monday January 25, 2016 14:50 – 15:40 Eugenio Guglielmelli, Campus Biomedico University, Italy

Rehabilitation robotics emerged as a novel application area in the healthcare domain for robotics and automation technology in the ‘90s, when the first trials on human subjects were carried out.

After more than 20 years since that time, this technology is still gaining increasing popularity for attracting research interests, clinical developments and industrial exploitation of cumulative findings on efficacy of robot-mediated therapy of a variety of muscoloskeletal disorders and neuromotor diseases. Nevertheless, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of those solutions which undergone significant clinical applications are in many cases still quite weak or questionable, when structured techniques for such evalutations, such as HTA (healthcare technology assessment) methods are applied.

When observed from a genuine clinical and HTA perspective, the trajectory of rehabilitation technology appears far from reaching its maturity yet.

This talk will present a recent, yet preliminary HTA analysis of rehabilitation robots, with a specific focus on solutions for the lower limb therapy.

Starting from the main current limitations of the achievements to-date, a presentation of the grand open research challenges, as emerging also from the HTA analysis, will be presented and discussed, covering both the area of functional recovery and of functional substitution.

Examples and case-studies being carried out at the Research Unit of Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, on relevant research challenges, such as non-anthropomorphic wearable machines, bio-cooperative controllers and intuitive human-machine interfaces, restoration of sensory feedback and learning capabilities (e.g. via neural interfaces), tele-rehabilitation and more, will be briefly introduced to support the proposed research roadmap for the next evolutions of rehabilitation robotics.