Preclinical testing to validate the prototype.The Biomechanics Institute of Valencia (IBV) is currently taking part in the European project WALKX with the aim of developing an innovative rehabilitation system to improve the quality of life of people who have suffered brain damage. This system will allow home rehabilitation and improve patient’s autonomy.

WALKX is a two-year research project for the benefit of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), co-funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme.

The user friendly walking training device the partners are designing will support the patient in raising from sitting to standing position and enable the patient to perform walking training and improve his/her manoeuvrability. “An upper body stabilizing and controllable supporting vest will be developed. Early in the rehabilitation process it will be used under supervision of a therapist, but with greatly reduced need for physical support from the therapists. This is intended to reduce the need for help from others and increase freedom of movement and personal autonomy of the patient”, said Ignacio Bermejo, Market Innovation Director at IBV.

One of the novelties of this device consists of a vest with attachment points on the patient's waist in order to regulate the mobility of the trunk. Also, the device will be modular and low cost. The role of IBV in this initiative has been to define the design specifications and preclinical testing to validate the prototype. Preclinical tests are done in collaboration with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe of Valencia.

The project is coordinated by the Norwegian company Made for Movement Group. Besides Biomechanics Institute, other members of the consortium are Innovatsiooni Eesti Instituut (Estonia), INNORA ROBOTICS (Greece), Newtrim and MCT (UK), ENIX (France), Motus (Italy) and MOBILE ROBOTICS SWEDEN (Sweden).

Stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is the most common cause of adult disability in Europe. Roughly 75% of victims survive, but about half of these lose the ability to live independently in their own home. As strokes often result in long term disability rather than death, the rehabilitation and hospitalisation represent a major economic burden for the EU of about €34 Bn annually. Currently, the annual incidence is approximately 2 per 1,000 inhabitants in the EU, and the number is predicted to double over the next 50 years due to the aging of the population.

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