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Robotics in Rehab

 In 2014, Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation funded Australia’s first Paediatric Robotic Arm used by the team’s Occupational Therapists to assist children and young people with a range of mobility issues to improve upper arm movement, strength and control.  In 2017 a second robotic arm was funded, allowing the rehabilitation team to help hundreds of children to achieve results which have exceeded expectations.

To further rehabilitation goals, the Foundation has purchased a YouGrabber system which complements the Robotic Arm. While the Robotic Arm works on upper limb mobility and strengthening, the YouGrabber focuses on fine motor control and development of the hands and fingers as well as reaction time, visual attention and concentration.

To keep children motivated, the devices use computer games that can be tailored to suit the level of recovery they have reached. Immediate performance feedback helps therapists to monitor and analyse the child’s progress and therapists can then decrease the level of physical support the patient gets from the device as they improve their strength and mobility.

Senior Occupational Therapist, Jenny Colegate, says the equipment has been a game changer for patients and therapists alike.

“The Foundation allowed us to lead the way in this field as we were the first hospital in Australia to install this ground breaking equipment.  The children are so motivated by the robotic devices and really want to play the games that are part of their therapy again and again. It is incredibly rewarding for the children, their families and all of us who work in the therapy team.”

“If you want to see real change, you need engagement from the child and you want to always challenge them,” remarks Dr Jane Valentine, Head of Kids Rehab WA at Perth Children’s Hospital.

“Thanks to the Foundation and its donors, we have Australian first robots that facilitate this.  They also recently approved funding for the purchase of the next stage of robotic arm, enabling kids that are further along in their recovery to access a harder level of rehabilitation. This is very exciting, as it means that these kids will see an even better outcome from their treatment.”

“Technology is ever changing and improving, so we are extremely thankful to the Foundation for funding that means our patients have access to the very best cutting edge equipment.”

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