A robot is helping him walk again

A robot is helping him walk again

Dubai - Pikki controls his 'new legs' using a joystick panel that he flips using his finger.

By Asma Ali Zain

Published: Sun 25 Sep 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 26 Sep 2016, 8:52 AM

Emirati Abdul Rahman Halil Himadi, 56, was in bed when a sudden headache hit him and he started to drift in and out of consciousness.
He could hear his family calling out to him but couldn't respond because he was paralysed by the sharp pain and had lost his ability to speak. His right side also felt very weak.
Luckily his family instantly recognised the symptoms of stroke and rushed him to Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi. Abdul was completely paralysed on the right side when he was shifted to Amana Healthcare in March this year. But within two weeks of intensive rehabilitation, Abdul showed signs of recovery.
He was among the few patients who had learnt to re-walk with the help of Rex, the robot who gave him mobility throughout his rehabilitation. "When I came in, I was in a wheelchair but in two weeks, I started to walk using crutches," he said while speaking to Khaleej Times, which was a definite sign of improvement. Doctors said Abdul's stroke was caused by high blood pressure and diabetes.
Two months into the rehabilitation programme with Rex, Abdul regained control of the right side of his body. Rex, being used exclusively by Amana in the UAE, is a robot assisted physiotherapy for patients with acute mobility impairments.
Dr Khalid Anwar, Consultant of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Amana Healthcare said that the hospital provides complex post-acute inpatient rehabilitation for patients recovering from stroke, head injury, surgery, trauma or severe illness.
"We offer clinical, rehabilitative and pastoral care to non-acute patients using innovative care models characterised by strong cultural and religious adaptation and evidence-based medicine," he said. Rehabilitation has been marked as a priority by health authorities in the country. In cases of post-acute rehabilitation, the facility provides the services instead of any outpatient clinic. A minimum of three hours of rehabilitation is done by qualified rehabilitation specialists for patients needing it.
According to Dr Khalid, each patient receives an individualised programme of therapy and treatment. "The main objective of care is to return patients to their home or their work - with a focus on functional rehabilitation and participation in life roles and optimising quality of life."
The length of stay in a specialised post-acute rehabilitation hospital depends on each individual case. Patients who have suffered a stroke, head injury, surgery or trauma, or severe illness who need intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation in an inpatient setting are discharged with on-going home and/or outpatient care within 30-90 days of admission.
"Post-acute rehabilitation is an intensive, short-term care concept until the patient's condition and functional independence make them ready to return home," explained Dr Khalid such as in the case of Abdul.
Long-term care is for patients with severe and chronic illnesses, such as locked-in syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy. Most patients undergoing post-acute rehabilitation need a combination of occupational, physical, respiratory and speech therapy along with dietetics.
Robotic technology can change lives
Rex Bionics was launched at Arab Health Exhibition and Congress last year. Paralysed film producer Nick Fearon 'Pikki' flew infrom the UK to the UAE and demonstrated how robotic technology can drastically change lives and help people like him walk again. The robotic suit helped Pikki stand upright and walk 11 years after a motorcycle injury left him paralysed due to a spinal cord injury.
Pikki, who broke his back in 2004, was told he would never be able to walk again. "Standing and walking felt weird and wonderful but natural at the same time," Pikki tld Khaleej Times.
Pikki controls his 'new legs' using a joystick panel that he flips using his finger. The suit also enables him to sit and stand up from his wheel chair without help.
The machine is custom-made and can be adjusted to a height of 4.8 to 6.4 feet. The user does not require crutches or a walking frame to provide stability leaving the hands free and can be used by people with a complete spinal cord injury. It also protects the shoulders from injury, thereby safeguarding independence and addresses medical complications of wheelchair use.
The robot is powered by a rechargeable battery and has a life span of two hours.
With a hefty price tag of $250,000, Rex Bionics remains out of reach for the common man but is being used in hospital settings in the UK and now in the UAE to give rehabilitation to patients.

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