Low back pain is a leading cause disabling people. It particularly affects the elderly, whose proportion in European societies keeps rising, incurring growing concern about healthcare. Assistive technology in general and assistive robotics in particular may help to address the increasing need for healthcare. In particular, it can help people with musculoskeletal conditions that need keeping mobility of joints and increase of muscle force and coordination. In this context, we developed a robot coach for rehabilitation exercises. The goal is to increase the time patients spend exercising, by alleviating the lack of time a physiotherapist can spend monitoring a patient. With this perspective, our robot coach is capable of demonstrating rehabilitation exercises to patients, watch a patient carry out the exercise and give him feedback so as to improve his performance and encourage him.
Our consortium made up of roboticists and doctors used their expertise in movement analysis, machine learning, vocal and gesture interaction to bring our system from TRL2 (technological concept formulated) to TRL5 (technology validated in its target environment). With 12 months of clinical trials in two rehabilitation centres, our robot coach was assessed with medical, psychological and economical evaluation.