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Robotics and Gaming Center

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Robotics and gaming technology are rapidly becoming valuable tools in rehabilitation. These technologies allow for precise, measured, and varied repetition that can be adjusted for each person’s individualized care.

At the same time, gaming can make the repetition interesting by incorporating basic motions into a game format to maintain engagement while maximizing progress.

Our Robotics and Gaming Technology

Robotics and gaming technology available to patients of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute include the following:

AlterG®: NASA-created anti-gravity treadmill for nearly weightless exercise

The AlterG utilizes NASA unweighting technology to reduce the impact of walking or running to ease function and aerobic exercise during recovery.

How it works

The AlterG is a treadmill with a large inflatable enclosure that fills with air and uses differential air pressure technology to unweight the user. A specific pair of shorts helps to create an airtight environment from the waist down. Three cameras placed around the treadmill allow for real time feedback of gait deviations, foot clearance, and step length.

What it does

The AlterG helps to improve motor control, strength, endurance, and gait patterns.

Who it helps

Patients who need strengthening and gait training following an illness or surgery; patients with a neurological condition or injury, and those requiring aerobic conditioning or weight control/reduction.

Andago®: Mobile robot used for body-weight supported gait training

The Andago enables upright, hands-free walking that bridges the gap between treadmill-based gait training and free walking.

How it works

The mobile robot is comprised of two electronically driven wheels and four casters that allow the device to move forward, backward, and make turns. A harness provides fall protection and ensures safe, confident training for the patient. The intuitive nature of the device enables it to move and turn according to the demands of the patient.

What it does

The Andago helps rehab patients move from assisted gait therapy to unsupported walking sooner than traditional therapy would allow.

Who it helps

Benefits stroke and brain injury patients who are learning to walk again.

Armeo®: Task-oriented rehabilitation to improve arm movement

The Armeo partially compensates for the weight of your arm, allowing you to use your remaining strength to perform exercises. The Rehabilitation Institute uses Armeo’s original device, the Armeo®Spring, and was the first facility in the U.S. to receive the new Armeo®Boom.

How it works

Insert your arms into the device to move in all directions while:

  • Completing simulated everyday tasks
  • Playing computer games, such as Solitaire

What it does

The Armeo provides fun and motivating therapeutic exercise while “reminding” your brain how to control arm function.

Who it helps

Benefits stroke patients who have limited use of one arm, or people with spinal cord and brain injuries.

Bioness Integrated Therapy System (BITS): A touch screen designed for visumotor training

Using a portable touch screen, you play visual games that record and track your progress over time.

How it works

BITS offers several customizable, touch screen therapy programs designed to enhance outcomes for physical and occupational therapy patients and keep them engaged as they work toward their rehabilitation goals.

What it does

BITS helps increase movement in your arms while improving your hand-eye coordination, visual-vestibular integration problems, problem solving capabilities, cognitive challenges, and more.

Who it helps

Benefits individuals with disabilities resulting from traumatic injuries and movement disorders. BITS can also improve performance in competitive athletes.

Dynavision D2: A light up board that challenges key physical abilities

The Dynavision D2 is a board with 64 3D light up targets arranged in five rings to challenge balance, agility, and reaction time, with the ability for progress to be tracked over time.

How it works

The Dynavision D2 is a 4x4’ square that is height adjustable. It offers multiple modes to adjust target’s location, color, duration, and frequency. The LED screen located at eye level can be used to flash numbers, letters, words, and math problems along with the lights, to further increase the challenge.

What it does

This activity challenges vision, reaction time, balance, arm range of motion, and multi-tasking skills. It can be performed while seated or standing, and in conjunction with varied surfaces to create a balance challenge.

Who it helps

Originally developed for hockey goalies, the Dynavision D2 can help patients with neurological and orthopaedic conditions to improve:

  • Vision
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Range of motion
  • Cognition
  • Coordination

ErigoPro: A robotic tilt table for people who can't stand on their own

The ErigoPro is a robotic tilt table that manually mobilizes you while electrical stimulation increases blood flow and muscle strength.

How it works

By adhering electrodes to the skin, nerve endings are stimulated with electricity while cyclical movement training supports the recovery of leg muscle function.

What it does

The ErigoPro increases your tolerance to an upright or standing position and improves mobilization.

Who it helps

Benefits people with circulatory, neurological, or musculoskeletal conditions. The ErigoPro is also used to:

  • Increase local blood circulation
  • Maintain or increase joint range of motion
  • Prevent muscle atrophy
  • Relax muscle spasms

GameCycle®: A hand-operated exercise bike with a gaming twist.

Invented at the University of Pittsburgh, the GameCycle combines a stationary hand cycle with a commercial video game, allowing you to get exercise while playing Nintendo GameCube®.

How it works

Using both hands, you cycle forward or backward in a rowing motion to move the game character on the monitor. You control the speed and direction of your character by how fast and in what direction you “row.”

What it does

The GameCycle provides:

  • Cardiovascular and balance exercise
  • Flexibility and strength training

Who it helps

Benefits people who have limited use of one or both legs due to:

  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke

MusicGlove: Engaging musical game boosts motivation for recovery

The MusicGlove is a rehabilitation tool designed to help you regain lost hand function through the use of a glove with sensors and a musical video game.

How it works

Worn on one hand, the MusicGlove has sensors on each finger that record your movements and track your progress. A game is displayed on a monitor and you are encouraged to follow prompts on the screen by tapping your gloved fingers.

What it does

This device provides a fun and engaging way to improve your dexterity and hand movement speed through the use of music and video games.

Who it helps

Benefits people who have limited use of their hands or fingers due to:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental disability
  • Muscular injury
  • Neurological diseases
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury

Nintendo Wii®: Turning rehab into “Wii-hab.”

In an inpatient therapy setting, we use the Wii both as a leisure-time activity and as part of a patient’s individual rehab routines.

How it works

You play various sports and recreational Wii games while:

  • Standing or sitting
  • Using one or both arms

What it does

Therapists can adapt your gaming experience to provide:

  • Balance
  • Core stability
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Hand-eye coordination

Who it helps

Because of the variety and flexibility of the games, Wii benefits most people undergoing rehabilitation.

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