Cerebral Palsy is the most common form of severe disability in children. It often compromises volitional control of the arm such that the childs ability to move their arm and use their hand is limited. The core mechanisms of rehabilitation interventions to promote upper limb function involve intensive practice of functional tasks, which drives neural plasticity to improve motor skills. However, weakness of the upper limb makes it difficult for children to practice at the necessary intensity.
One way of providing the support required for children to access to useful arm exercise is using rehabilitation robotic systems, which can provide physical assistance (customised to the individuals requirements) whilst playing motivating computer games. The potential of these devices has been internationally recognised but cost and fitness-for-purpose are limiting factors.
My research will involve the design, implementation and analysis of a cost effective rehabilitation robot for children with cerebral palsy to provide useful intensive practice of upper limb exercises and activities.