AUSTIN, TEXAS—St. David’s Medical Center is participating in a stroke study using a robotic exoskeleton to rehabilitate shoulder movement. The device, called Harmony SHR, is 7 years in the making from the study sponsor Harmonic Bionics. The Harmony SHR device addresses the needs of approximately 80% of stroke survivors experiencing shoulder dysfunction and pain. Robert K. Lee, MD, the Medical Director of Stroke & Neurological Recovery at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital, is overseeing the project. This study is a follow-up of an exploratory pilot project previously done with an earlier version of the robot, which began at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital in 2018.

The exoskeleton functions by physically enveloping the patient’s arms when sitting down. This allows for simultaneous therapy to both shoulders and assists in more than 80% of their full range of motion. Harmony’s novel bilateral, upper-extremity mechanism is customizable and can adjust robotic force firmness at each joint, a critical feature for physical therapy. A multitude of sensors embedded throughout the mechanical arms also assess patient recovery at 2,000 times per second.

Patients qualified for this new shoulder therapy can look forward to receiving treatment at St. David’s, the main clinical partner for the study. The study is currently enrolling interested patients struggling with limited or impaired functional use of one or both upper extremities from recent stroke injury. Learn more and see a video demonstration of the Harmony SHR robot.

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tags: research