The Rehabilitation Robotics Lab from Perelman School of Medicine works to create low cost, simple robots to assist recovery of patients with non-traumatic brain injuries, such as stroke survivors or people diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Currently, the lab is building an affordable robotics gym for countries where there is a shortage of rehabilitation professionals and limited access to them prevents a patient’s full recovery post-injury. The aim is to create a gym that operates without physician oversight, delivers strong clinical outcomes, and engages patients through fun, interactive therapy. Our Senior Design team saw an opportunity to contribute.

There are two primary objectives to Theragym: to intelligently challenge or ease a patient during a physical therapy session and to advance the rehabilitation process by engaging patients. We started with a Carci shoulder exercise machine, which is used to improve a patient’s circulation, muscle strength, and range of motion. We added features to this Carci machine which test a patient’s range of motion and intelligently adjust the machine’s resistance. We created a magnetic encoder that detects the patient’s angular position. This value is then reported to a Unity game via serial communication from a microcontroller. Based on a patient’s performance, a stepper motor component would adjust the resistance of the machine.

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