Major advances have occurred in the past 20 years in the development and testing of interventions for neuromotor rehabilitation. Conventional rehabilitation programs have been proven to be effective in improving walking and arm functions, however, they often involve great consumption of heath care resources. Intense repetitions of coordinated motor activities constitute a significant burden for the therapists assisting patients. Recently, innovative technologies such as robotics and virtual reality have been proposed to overcome this difficulty and improve quality of life of patients. Rehabilitation Robotics aims at the implementation of efficient robot strategies to facilitate the re-acquisition of motor skills. Specifically, this technology allows incorporating the outcomes of behavioral studies on motor learning and its neural correlates into the design, implementation, and validation of robot agents that behave as ‘optimal’ trainers, which efficiently exploit structure and plasticity of the human sensorimotor systems. In this context, human-robot interaction plays a paramount role, at physical as well as at cognitive level, going towards a symbiotic interaction where human body and robots can benefit from each other’s dynamics. Rehabilitation robots include therapy robots, which provide therapy for patients seeking to recover their physical, communication or cognitive functions, and assistive robots, which assist persons who have severe chronic disability to accomplish activities of daily living. This book focuses on the state of the art and representative advancements in design, control, analysis, implementation, and validation of rehabilitation robotic systems.
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