The Prodrobot is an automated gait trainer designed for the rehabilitation of lower limbs of children suffering from gait dysfunctions - with an adult version of the robot coming soon
Harnesses and zimmer frames are among the equipment used to help people with mobility issues walk again – but a robotic gait trainer that adapts to individuals could be the treatment technique of the future.
Polish therapy device manufacturer Prodomus claims its Prodrobot technology has the ability to adapt and “grow with the patient together”, meaning it can be used by anyone.
Currently aimed at children, the machine provides various types of therapies to help enhance the rehabilitation of children’s legs and a wide range of disabilities.
It is an active medical robot that aims to make the therapy process comfortable for both patients and physiotherapists, providing intensive training in a safe and personalised manner.
The company showcased the Prodrobot at this year’s Arab Health trade show in Dubai, and enjoyed great popularity after being highlighted as one of the eight most exciting companies at the event by Gulf News.
Its main goal now is to create an adult version of the automated gait trainer that will be equipped with a patient lift, allowing a heavy person to be placed on the robot with the aid of only one physio.
What is gait dysfunction and why is the Prodrobot needed?
“Gait” describes the way a person walks. But failing to walk properly due to neurological conditions or injuries that affect movement results in “gait dysfunction” or ‘abnormal gait’.
Gait dysfunction is common in people with deformities, brain tumours and nervous system problems, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis – a condition that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Prodomus was founded in 2013 by CEO Bartolmiej Wielogorski after his co-founder Grzegorz Piątek, made a prototype of the Prodrobot specifically for twins with cerebral palsy – who were his friend’s sons and had inspired him to build the machine – and gained approval by the Warsaw teaching hospital Children’s Memorial Health Institute.
Prodomus support sales specialist Joanna Żuradzka says: “In disorders with lower limbs and movement, the most important thing is that the gait pattern should be correct and fully compatible with human anatomy.
“If physiotherapists conduct traditional rehabilitation to help move the patient’s legs, each movement will be different and the muscle memory will not work properly.
“The Prodrobot is designed to map and simulate walking patterns, allowing children to practise walking along with a number of other activities.
“The key to successful rehabilitation is the repetition of exercises, their regularity and quantity. Prodrobot, therefore, allows you to increase this efficiency.”
How does the Prodrobot gait trainer work?
The Prodrobots are already at work helping children in rehab centres around the world, including in Europe and Asia – and is even available in some private homes.
It claims to be the world’s only robotic device to enable the training of each leg, individually, at the same time.
The focus of the gait trainer is to “complement traditional rehabilitation methods”.
As it is most often used by children with cerebral palsy – where people have impaired muscle co-ordination caused by damage to the brain before or at birth – or paralysis, the physio must choose the type of exercise and intensity for the patient.
In the hands of a good therapist, the Prodrobot provides highly repetitive and the most physiological gait training – especially to severely impaired patients.
Ms Żuradzka said: “Unlike other devices, Prodrobot does not use the treadmill.
“All exercises take place in the air. Some patients who have an ankle problem can’t use the treadmill and put their feet on the ground.
“In addition, Prodrobot has options to adjust the range of angles in which each joint moves.
“Patients with permanent contractures of the muscles do not perform the full range of movement as a healthy person. The angles for the hip, knee and ankle can be set separately.”
What makes the Prodrobot a unique gait trainer?
Prodrobot’s greatest advantage is its gait pattern derived from a systematic study that was carried out on 3,000 people and a mathematical model.
These exercises prevent the habit of pathological movement patterns in neurological and orthopaedic diseases.
After the research, conducted at the University School of Physical Education in Krakow, proved the pattern to be very accurate and efficient, it was translated into computer language for the Prodrobot to imitate.
The most unique feature of Prodrobot is how it prevents patients from experiencing spasms while strapped into the machine.
With uncontrolled muscle contractions, the robot has a security system that immediately stops the robot functioning.
This allows the physio to check the patient improve its setting. Then it is possible to continue the exercise.
As the device works universally through the way it supports limbs and the spine, as well as its fastening elements, it can be adapted to various patients – regardless of their height, limb mobility or weight.
Adjustments can also be made to the range of movements, length of steps and speed of the exercise according to individual capability.