A study in the Netherlands and Sweden showed that elderly persons with or without functional disabilities that affected their hands or arms were willing to use an aid for their upper extremities if it could help them achieve a greater degree of independence in their everyday lives.
The study was part of the international Iron Arm project under the European Commission's SILVER project (Supporting Independent LiVing for the Elderly through Robotics) and focused on "wearable technologies" which provide both "support and scope for active living," according to a press release dated February 28.
Tomas Ward, CEO of Bioservo Technologies AB, a Swedish company that develops muscle strengthening equipment based on its patented SEM (Soft Extra Muscles) technology, said, "A good many robotics-based products are not designed and produced for use in ADL (Activities of Daily Living) situations, but have often been developed with a specific aim or purpose in mind. There are currently no user-centric and easily available products similar to the one we are planning."
While there are a number of aids based on health robotics already on the market, most are focused on a specific application and have limited use when dealing with overall ADL tasks such as getting dressed, cooking or personal hygiene. However, studies have shown that more than 40 percent of these tasks can be performed when using these types of robotic aids.