Health Robot Assist For a Safe and Active Life
As the world’s population gets older, innovative new products are being developed to facilitate self-reliance and health recovery of the elderly. The Lean Empowering Assistant (Lea) is a smart walker developed in the Netherlands. It supports faster patient rehabilitation while prolonging an independent, safe and active life.
Image: ©Rijksoverheid / Bart Hoogveld
Lea is the brainchild of Technical University Delft-educated, Maja Rudinac. After developing autonomous driving cars and robots for missions to Mars, she wanted to develop a smart vehicle that would be useful to ordinary people. So, she developed a robotic walker. A smart walker that helps the elderly to become more independent and that enhances the quality of their lives.
Helpful innovative tools
This autonomous walker is equipped with many useful technological innovations. It can be programmed to collect a patient, notify them when it’s time to take their medicine, or when to do their exercises. The patient can also communicate with family, caregivers or fellow patients through an interactive screen.
The smart walker has built-in sensors and cameras that give it the ability to identify obstacles and changes in terrain height. If the user walks to close to a wall or nears a sudden drop in terrain, Lea will automatically stop and reverse course.
In addition, physical activities can be programmed into the walker’s system. Lea observes how long a patient is active, or inactive, which can be monitored by caregivers via an online platform. and, if an exercise target is not reached, Lea will suggest alternative activities. As an added bonus, Lea can salsa dance with you.
Lea will signal when it is time to recharge, returning automatically to its base station.
Safe and independent
A pilot program at the Sint-Maartens clinic, in the Netherlands, revealed that patients felt safe and independent with Lea. As a result, they were more inclined to do their walking exercises because of the robot’s ability to avoid obstacles, making it safer. It is also self-stabilizing – calculating and adjusting the stability a person needs when standing (up) or walking. The smart-walker can also adjust its speed to the user’s pace, giving the patient a sense of security.
The trial also showed that the smart walker had proven value for patients recovering from stroke or other brain-related illnesses.
The smart walker offers support to daily activities making the user less dependent on a partner, family members or caregivers. Lea is a life changer for the infirmed and the elderly, ensuring that people can continue to live an independent, safe and active life.