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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Will Robots Replace Clinicians?

Are rehabilitation clinicians indispensable? Did you know that researchers in robotic and engineering laboratories are designing robots to perform rehabilitative tasks?

Rehab-RobotTrying wrapping your head around this one. On twitter, I see tweets from across the globe that indicate researchers in the rehabilitation world are promoting muscle overload to be included in interventions. I'm sure we all agree that muscle overload has value. When you read "optimal load orientation concept" in the below abstract, you are not to be thinking about rehabilitation professionals. This term is derived from shoulder models and mathematical equations. The biomedical engineering goal is to use human models and mathematics to define the optimal length for each shoulder muscle in order to provide targeted overload. Because the shoulder has a wide range of possible positions, equations were used to determine the best angle or placement of an external load to more precisely achieve high muscle activation in each shoulder muscle. The simulations compare the calculated optimal load orientation with a typical resistive exercise performed in the clinic.  

What I am not able to readily comprehend in the full text is how the optimal load orientation concept looked in the simulation. It would be interesting to have seen a video of the simulated muscle overload. 

Engineers are truly focused on creating a robot to provide strengthening activities for the shoulder musculature for individuals with a shoulder problem. The article mentioned being used for individuals after having a stroke. I'm not sure how the robot will overcome the often concurrent problem of lack of coordination. I'm also not sure how a robot would be helpful when someone is experiencing pain. Then again, the robot may have artificial intelligence built into its programming. Are we indispensable? 

The abstract is included below for you to review.

A Muscle-Specific Rehabilitation Training Method Based on Muscle Activation and the Optimal Load Orientation Concept.

Song Z1, Nie C1, Li S1, Dario P1,2, Dai JS1,3.


Training based on muscle-oriented repetitive movements has been shown to be beneficial for the improvement of movement abilities in human limbs in relation to fitness, athletic training, and rehabilitation training. In this paper, a muscle-specific rehabilitation training method based on the optimal load orientation concept (OLOC) was proposed for patients whose motor neurons are injured, but whose muscles and tendons are intact, to implement high-efficiency resistance training for the shoulder muscles, which is one of the most complex joints in the human body. A three-dimensional musculoskeletal model of the human shoulder was used to predict muscle forces experienced during shoulder movements, in which muscles that contributed to shoulder motion were divided into 31 muscle bundles, and the Hill model was used to characterize the force-length properties of the muscle. According to the musculoskeletal model, muscle activation was calculated to represent the muscle force. Thus, training based on OLOC was proposed by maximizing the activation of a specific muscle under each posture of the training process. The analysis indicated that the muscle-specific rehabilitation training method based on the OLOC significantly improved the training efficiency for specific muscles. The method could also be used for trajectory planning, load magnitude planning, and evaluation of training effects.

 2018 Nov 22;2018:2365983. doi: 10.1155/2018/2365983. eCollection 2018.


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