Rehabilitation after a stroke takes persistence and time, and the requirements and duration of therapy can vary significantly between patients. Harmonic Bionics, Inc. has developed the Harmony SHR, a robotic rehabilitation system designed for clinical use that can streamline rehabilitation and tailor therapy to the patient.
The Harmony SHR can speed up the recovery process for individuals with stroke-related upper-extremity dysfunction. The robot’s design mirrors the complex shoulder joint, allowing full range of motion. It maintains a proper relationship between the scapula and the head of the humerus (upper arm) during therapy.
Therapists can adjust the robot to fit patients of all sizes. The system includes a weight support mode that minimizes the effects of gravity. This mode allows the patient to practice natural shoulder motions without the risk of damage or discomfort. This safety factor means that many patients can begin therapy earlier in the recovery process.
Preprogrammed exercises that simulate functional, multiplanar movements gradually increase the number of reps during a session without causing excess fatigue. The robot removes the need for therapists to provide physical resistance during exercise, so they can focus on interacting with patients.
The Harmony SHR exoskeleton is bilateral, providing a unique feature–bilateral sync therapy. Bilateral sync therapy replicates the healthy arm’s movements on the dysfunctional side in real-time. Taking advantage of neuroplasticity, bilateral sync therapy activates neurons to restore damaged neural pathways in the stroke-affected areas of the brain.
For now, the new robot is strictly a clinical tool, but it may have a future as an at-home mobility support system. And eventually, like other exoskeletons, Harmony SHR may become a mobile device that gives stroke survivors the ability to move about the world with independence and confidence.