ATOUN Systematizes the Point-of-Care Usage of Wearable Robots Through a Year of Studies
Provision of Products to Nursing-care Facilities to Begin Based on Findings
Nara, Japan - ATOUN Inc. (headquarters in Nara City, Nara Prefecture; represented by Hiromichi Fujimoto) will begin the sales of ATOUN MODEL Y * to nursing-care facilities.
Up to now, this powered wear for the waist has primarily been used at logistics and manufacturing sites. However, since the object of its utilization at nursing-care facilities would be people, ATOUN decided to carry out more extensive studies in advance of commencing such sales. A one-year verification of its safety and efficacy during use in a nursing-care setting was implemented with the cooperation of Social Welfare Foundation RYUSEI FUKUSHIKAI (located in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture; Kayoko Fujimoto, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees). As a result, ATOUN was successful in obtaining specific knowledge on the more effective utilization of wearable robots and made the decision to go ahead with the sales to nursing-care facilities.
One of the noteworthy findings of the study was that at nursing-care settings, there was a correlation between the amount of time required for a task and the amount of strain on the lower back. The powered wear for the waist is utilized to lighten strain on the body. Therefore, a criterion for its use had been whether or not a task posed any strain on a person's lower back. Closer study, however, showed that in an actual nursing-care setting, there were more than a few caregivers who avoided the bother of putting on the wearable robot if the task involved, for example, only transferring a single patient. This was because the task would be completed in a short amount of time. Therefore, there had not been sufficient reason to utilize the wearable robot if only using the amount of lower back strain as a criterion. However, matters changed when focus was placed on the amount of time required for a task. Even if providing transfer assistance, if the task involved the provision of consecutive transfer assistance, such as at a shared, public space of a nursing-care facility, the task would require much more time to complete and would not make putting the wearable robot on seem like a nuisance. There would be no resistance to enjoying the benefit of the wearable robot. ATOUN took the various tasks of nursing-care sites and mapped them out as shown in the diagram, using the correlation between lower-back strain and the time required for a task. The tasks were divided into the three categories of the diagram, and rankings were set up in terms of the recommended utilization of the wearable robot (with Category 1 being the most highly recommended tasks for wearable robot utilization).
The study also showed that the psychological resistance felt toward robots by caregivers is a challenge in regard to the use of wearable robots at nursing-care sites. Caregivers with no basic knowledge of the devices are expected to use wearable robots straight away. Because of this, there were cases in which psychological resistance resulted in the inability to successfully master their use. Takayuki Fujiwara, Deputy Director of the Instruction Department of Educational Corporation OSAKA JIKEI COLLEGE and OSAKA COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, therefore launched an initiative with nursing-care robots as part of students' graduation work, and ATOUN is assisting this effort. The idea is that the utilization of wearable robots at nursing-care sites will be further promoted if basic knowledge is acquired when caregivers and others are still students, as it should reduce the psychological resistance felt on site once the students begin their professional career.
* Powered Wear "ATOUN MODEL Y" for the waist
A wearable robot which alleviates the strain posed on the lower-back of workers when lifting heavy objects from the floor to waist height.
About ATOUN Inc.
ATOUN is a robotics firm involved in the development and popularization of wearable robots, such as powered wear, that lighten the physical strain posed on workers. Founded in 2003, ATOUN aims to achieve a power barrierless society where anyone can work without being affected by differences in physical strength, such as that due to age or gender. Investors in ATOUN include Panasonic Corporation and Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
About Social Welfare Foundation RYUSEI FUKUSHIKAI
RYUSEI FUKUSHIKAI operates special care nursing homes, comprehensive regional support centers and nursery schools. It has a long history of international exchange with Finland, a country with an advanced welfare system. In addition to proactively adopting the use of nursing-care robots, it cooperates with the robot development and verification tests carried out by companies, universities, research laboratories and others, playing a part in the development of globally advanced robots. It communicates the appeal of nursing-care work widely and aims to boost the image of the nursing-care industry.
About Educational Corporation OSAKA JIKEI COLLEGE and OSAKA COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE
The schools have several departments, including nursing, care welfare, social welfare and childcare. They aim to have their students acquire specialized knowledge as well as skills related respectively to health, healthcare and welfare. At the same time, they also aim to develop human resources who are rich in humanity and able to understand these fields regardless of their major. The basic principles common to the schools are real-world education, human education and international education, and on top of this, each school has as ideals, educational goals and policies in line with their respective field of specialization, which it endeavors to implement.
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