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Better Physical Therapy Through Robotics!

Applicant Attorney: “HAL – please maximize this injured workers’ permanent disability.”

HAL: “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.”

Happy Friday, dear readers!  I bring you some interesting news direct from Japan but landing in the United States – Japanese company Cyberdyne has received FDA approval for limited use of its HAL for Medical Use.  What is HAL?  It’s not a malfunctioning robot on a spaceship determined to add tension and suspense to a movie or a book.  It’s the Hybrid Assistive Limb product that is supposed to help and speed up physical therapy by supporting the movements of injured patients and gradually allowing them to do more and more walking on their own.

So, are your physical therapy clinics using something like HAL?  Perhaps – but if you’ve got an inherent resistance to gimmicks and new technology (Wheels are round and confusing! Fire scaaaaares me!)  Practically speaking though, if this method can expedited the effects of physical therapy, we might be looking at fewer PT sessions being necessary, shorter TD periods, and lower PD… then perhaps it’s worth it?

From the point of view of the physical therapist clinic, perhaps such devices can have benefits as well.  Could the clinics that employ assistive robotics devices like this reduce the frequency of injury among their employees and physical therapists?

It truly is amazing watching the practical application of robotics and technology as it forces its way into our little swamp that is workers’ compensation.  Regularly enough we keep a wary eye on Sacramento and its periodic legislative reforms to upset all our most fundamental notions.  Now we must keep our other eye firmly trained on the Silicon Valleys of the world for those robotic and medical advances that rendered our laws moot.

Have a good weekend!

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