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Riley Robots: Growing in Number and Need

| Indianapolis—In just over a year’s time, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health has gone from opening the state’s first robotic rehabilitation center to now offering one of – if not the most – comprehensive pediatric robotic therapy programs in the nation.

The Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health opened in September 2010, providing children with cerebral palsy (CP) and other movement disorders interactive robots and computer games to help re-program their brains and improve their motor functions. The center is a collaborative effort between Riley, the Indiana University Department of Physical Therapy and IU Health Rehabilitation Services.

“We’re proud to say that our Robotic Rehabilitation Center was unique from the day it opened – from starting with upper and lower extremity robots for both clinical and active research purposes to securing the nation’s first-ever Medicaid support for robotic therapy,” said Marilyn Cox, interim chief executive officer, Riley at IU Health.

Now, the Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health has even more robots at its disposal, thanks in large part to continued funding and support from the Robots to the Rescue Foundation and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Indiana. Robotic therapy at Riley at IU Health now employs the following equipment:

  • Lokomat – One of our original robots. This lower extremity robot is designed to improve walking, endurance and strength. The patient is suspended over a treadmill with robotic legs attached and timed to stimulate a correct walking pattern. The Lokomat also has a device that enables patients to translate their walking activity into a virtual world. This is the only Lokomat used with children in Indiana and is one of 15 in the nation being used with children.
     
  • MIT-Manus Shoulder-Elbow Robot – One of our original robots. This upper extremity robot is designed to increase motor control and function. The patient’s upper extremity is secured, attached to a robotic arm and positioned in front of a video screen where the patient completes activities. The robotic arm provides customized assistance based on the patient’s ability. This is the only MIT-Manus Shoulder-Elbow robot in Indiana and one of only three in the nation being used with children.
     
  • MIT-Manus Wrist Robot – This upper extremity robot is designed to increase wrist motion for children with arm and hand dysfunction. The patient’s upper extremity is secured so that only the wrist can move. The patient is positioned in front of a video screen and completes activities with a joystick device. The robot provides customized assistance based on the patient’s ability. This is the only MIT-Manus Wrist robot in Indiana and one of only two in the nation being used with children.
     
  • Armeo Pediatric Spring – One of our newer pieces of equipment. This upper extremity device is designed to enhance arm functionality and attaches from the upper arm down to the hand. The patient is positioned in front of a video screen and completes activities. Springs in this device enable the patient to learn proper movement patterns without the effects of gravity, so there is greater muscle control. This is the only Armeo Pediatric Spring in Indiana and one of only six in the nation being used with children.
     
  • MIT-Manus Anklebot Robot – Our newest robot. This lower extremity robot is designed to enhance ankle motion and functionality for standing and walking. This is the only MIT-Manus Anklebot robot in Indiana and one of only two in the nation being used with children.

Rehabilitation for CP and other movement disorders is often challenging because impaired motor skills affect coordination and movement. The benefit of robotic therapy is repetitive, controlled motion.

Since its opening, the Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health has drawn patients from across the state. So far, the center has seen 37 patients on its MIT-Manus Shoulder-Elbow robot and 26 patients on its Lokomat.

“The interest in our program has been overwhelming and we’re excited by the feedback and results we’ve seen to date,” said Pauline Flesch, co-director of the Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health and executive director of IU Health Rehabilitation Services. “Parents and our therapists report greater strength, confidence and endurance in the children as a result of this therapy.”

The Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health is also conducting research to document the successes it’s seen. The center is currently part of a multi-site research study on the MIT-Manus Shoulder-Elbow robot. Another study is pending on the Lokomat and grants have been submitted for a joint MIT-Manus Shoulder-Elbow and MIT-Manus Wrist robot study.

“This is about providing the latest technology and the most innovative treatments to Hoosier children,” said Dr. Deborah Hamby, co-director of the Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health and a developmental pediatrician at Riley at IU Health. “I think the breadth of our program really shows our dedication and commitment to improving their quality of life.”

The Riley Robotic Rehabilitation Center at IU Health is currently housed in the Rotary Building, across from the Riley Outpatient Center at IU Health. For more information, please call 317.274.0487 or e-mail rcardin1@iuhealth.org.

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About Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health For more than 85 years, Riley at IU Health has been one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals. Each year, Riley at IU Health provides compassionate care, support and comfort to 215,000 inpatients and outpatients from across Indiana, the nation and the world. Part of Indiana University Health, our unique partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

 

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