Starting in the fall of 2017, one can rent a new rehabilitation assist robot from Toyota Motor Corporation. The Welwalk WW-1000 is designed to aid in the rehabilitation of individuals with lower limb paralysis as a result of stroke and other causes.
The robotic system includes a treadmill with suspended support straps and a video monitor. A robotic leg brace helps the patient bend and extend the knee joint. The robot adjusts its motion to keep up with the treadmill and is able to deliver different levels of assistance, depending on the rehab needs of individual patients. Voice prompts provide feedback in real-time on how an exercise routine is progressing.
The company has been involved with industrial robots since the 1980s and has applied automobile production and developmental experience to advance its Partner Robot program philosophy. The goal is to build robots that assist with human activities in applications such as assistance, elderly care, manufacturing and mobility. The Welwalk WW-1000 will help to provide assistance to the elderly by enabling them to live more independent lives and to also provide support for their caregivers.
Development of rehabilitation robots in the field of medical support began at the end of 2007 in collaboration with Fujita Health University Hospital in Toyoake, Aichi Prefecture. Since 2011, pilot testing has been conducted at the hospital's medical facilities. Between 2014 and the end of March 2017, Walk Training Assist robots have been installed in 23 medical facilities throughout Japan for clinical research.
Feedback from patients and healthcare professionals involved in clinical research indicates that this robot has the potential to aid in lower limb recovery, and as a result, the use of the robot as a medical device has been officially approved and certified. Toyota hopes to rent 100 units of the Welwalk WW-1000 robots, via Good Life Design Inc., to medical facilities beginning in the fall of 2017.