Exoskeleton from Łukasiewicz – PIAP will help patients and the health care system

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Piotr Falkowski ze swoim urządzeniem

Patient convenience and an answer to healthcare staff shortages are the main advantages of the solution that Piotr Falkowski of Łukasiewicz – PIAP is working on. We have completed the first tests of this solution, and their results are very promising.

The project is designed to support functional remote physiotherapy in the home setting, which will ensure patient safety and enable improvement of movement with as little specialist supervision as possible. For this purpose, it is necessary to build a device adapted to home conditions with automatic control supporting the user’s correct movements. As part of the work, production of a lightweight exoskeleton attached to domestic objects for functional training is planned.

State-of-the-art solutions

The project envisages the use of elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning The networks used by the Łukasiewicz – PIAP scientists are designed to learn movement patterns and the associated anatomical and functional compensations, so that the physiotherapist can introduce the movement itself by dragging the patient’s limb as it happens during conventional manual therapy. This will allow the system to track these movements and spot any errors.

We used learning control algorithms. They will extend the simple training movements introduced by the rehabilitator by analysing the anatomical and functional correctness of the patient's repetitions. This will allow progress or errors to be monitored and corrected on an ongoing basis, without the need to see a physiotherapist.

Compared to other similar solutions, the one proposed by Łukasiewicz – PIAP, will primarily be lighter and easier to use in home setting, while guaranteeing unrestricted movement of the shoulder and elbow joints. In addition, the whole system will automatically monitor the user’s mistakes, as if he or she were constantly exercising under a real physiotherapist’s guidance. What’s more, it is designed so that it can be 3D printed. This significantly speeds up its production and reduces the costs involved.

Help for the patient and… the system

Thanks to the implementation of the project, it will be possible in the future to help patients with neurological and orthopaedic diseases, especially post-stroke, who, due to staff shortages in the area of health, receive too little personalised therapy, which takes place too late.

The commercial potential of the exoskeleton, which is the result of a PhD thesis carried out at the Warsaw University of Technology, is enormous. In the 14th edition of the NCBR Leader, Peter was shortlisted for funding in the prestigious competition for young scientific managers. The plan is to implement this product as a product of the institute or as its spin-off. Before this happens, however, the project still requires research and development work, followed by an approximately three-year certification process for the medical device.

Success in the Student-Inventor competition

Piotr Falkowski, also representing the Warsaw University of Technology, became one of the five winners of the 14th edition of the Student – Inventor competition. The initiative has been organised by the Kielce University of Technology since 2010. The ‘Student-Inventor’ competition received funding from the Minister of Science’s ‘Social Responsibility of Science’ programme. As part of the competition prize, the winners will attend the International Invention Fair in Geneva and Warsaw.


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