For a child learning to walk, a parent's guiding hand supplies confidence, balance and comfort after the inevitable and usually harmless fall. For an adult relearning to walk after a disabling stroke, falls can be much more dangerous, and a physical therapist cannot safely allow a patient to push their limits of balance. Chicago PT joined with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the premier rehabilitation hospital in America, seeking to provide more intensive and effective therapy for stroke patients without diminishing the crucial physical, sensory and psychological connections between the therapist and patient.
The KineAssist research program exemplified the user-observation process by IDEO, and involved the team's engineers interviewing therapists and patients and physical therapists participating in invention and prototyping alongside the engineers. The result was the KineAssist™ Walking & Balance Exercise System, now in testing at RIC. The KineAssist is a robotic device with the physical strength to provide an adult patient with balance and protection from a fall while still encouraging the hands-on care of the physical therapist. The project was supported by a grant from the Advanced Technology Program of the Department of Commerce.
Contact: Scott Underwood,
Credit: Chicago PT, L.L.C.; Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; IDEO