Design and Evaluation of NEUROBike: A Neurorehabilitative Platform for Bedridden Post-Stroke Patients
Over the past decades, a large number of robotic platforms have been developed which provide rehabilitative treatments aimed at recovering walking abilities in post-stroke patients. Unfortunately, they do not significantly influence patients' performance after three months from the accident. One of the main reasons underlying this result seems to be related to the time of intervention. Specifically, although experimental evidences suggest that early (i.e., first days after the injury) and intense neuro-rehabilitative treatments can significantly favor the functional recovery of post-stroke patients, robots require patients to be verticalized. Consequently, this does not allow them to be treated immediately after the trauma. This paper introduces a new robotic platform, named NEUROBike, designed to provide neuro-rehabilitative treatments to bedridden patients. It was designed to provide an early and well-addressed rehabilitation therapy, in terms of kinesiology, efforts, and fatigue, accounting for exercises functionally related to daily motor tasks. For this purpose, kinematic models of leg-joint angular excursions during both walking and sit-to-stand were developed and implemented in control algorithms leading both passive and active exercises. Finally, a set of pilot tests was carried out to evaluate the performance of the robotic platform on healthy subjects.