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Sep 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contacts: Akira Kadota, International PR Tel: +81-3-3578-1237 Fax: +81-3-3436-6766 Panasonic News Bureau Tel: +81-3-3542-6205 Fax: +81-3-3542-9018
Panasonic Develops REALIVE Power Assist Device
Osaka, Japan - Panasonic, the leading brand for which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is known, announced that it has developed a prototype robotic suit designed to help recovering the upper-limb movement of stroke patients who are paralyzed on one side of the body.
The robotic suit, REALIVE, includes sensors and rubber muscles controlled by compressed air. When patients move their unaffected arm, sensors detect the movement and send signals to the rubber muscles that are wrapped around the impaired arm mirroring the movement of the unaffected arm. The rubber muscles are linked to a compressor unit with a display indicating the number of times the rubber muscles are moved.
The robotic training device is based on medical findings that visual feedback of the movement and intensive use of the affected upper limb can stimulate the cerebral nerves - that go "off-line" due to cerebrovascular accidents - and improve rehabilitation.1) The REALIVE is also a direct application of results of a research that was conducted as part of the Basic Technology Development for Practical Application of Human Support Robots project run by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).2) The research aimed to help with the rehabilitation of hemiparetic stroke patients.
Panasonic plans to evaluate functions of REALIVE in a clinical setting in cooperation with a co-developer, Takaaki Chin, M.D., of the Hyogo Prefectural Rehabilitation Center Hospital, and the Hyogo Assistive Technology Research and Development Institute. Testing on five hemiparetic stroke patients is scheduled to complete by March 2007.
The company aims to commercialize REALIVE by March 2009. Panasonic plans to sell to hospitals and institutions, expecting sales of one billion yen for fiscal year 2010. In the long term Panasonic hopes to make the robotic suit affordable at home.
REALIVE was developed by Activelink Co., Ltd., Panasonic's in-house venture. The developers sought a "visible but invisible" robotic device that looks friendly, perfectly fits patients' bodies and was safe to use. The REALIVE uses pneumatic artificial muscles made of rubber and wearable power-assist technology employing non-contact pressure sensors. The suit was also developed on a universal design concept with the easy-to-use operation panel for patients and caregivers.
According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare statistics, 1.4 million people suffered from stroke in 2002. In 2004 about 120,000 people died of stroke, the third most common cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Based on the data compiled by the Health Information Network in Akita Prefecture, hemiparetic stroke patients account for about 68 percent of all the stroke sufferers.
In conventional rehabilitation exercises, stroke patients are persuaded to train the unaffected limb for compensating the movements of the impaired limb for accomplishing daily needs. Many experts say, however, that it is important for the patients to keep motivation high in rehabilitations. The REALIVE encourages stroke patients to re-learn how to use an impaired limb. It also helps patients to work on restoring lost skills at their own initiative under instruction of a rehabilitation expert.Notes:
|1.||Kazuhisa Domen, M.D., Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hyogo College of Medicine, reports on the positive effects of the intensive training of impaired limbs in Domen, K. (2003) A case of improved upper-limb function of hemiparetic patient with constrained-induced movement therapy:JPN J Rehabil Med, Vol. 40, No. 12, Japan.|
|2.||NEDO is Japan's largest public R&D management organization for promoting the development of advanced industrial, environmental, new energy and energy conservation technologies.|
Best known by its Panasonic brand name, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of US$76.02 billion for the year ended March 31, 2006. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE:MC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at http://panasonic.net/.