Saturday, January 21, 2006

XRay Robot Follows Patients for Moving Pictures

A University of Florida engineer has designed a robot to shadow and shoot X-ray video of sufferers of orthopedic injuries as they walk, climb stairs, stand up from a seated position or pursue other normal activities – and maybe even athletic ones like swinging a bat.

“Our goal is come up with a way to observe and measure how joints are moving when people are actually using them,” University of Florida Engineer Scott Banks said

Banks hopes his robot – actually, a system that uses two robots because one robot will be necessary to shoot the X-ray video and another to hold the image sensor — will lead to a radical improvement.

The robot, which has a one-meter mechanical arm, is a commercial product normally used in robotically assisted surgeries and silicon chip manufacturing that Banks and his graduate students have re-engineered. The robot can shadow a person’s knee, shoulder or other joint with its hand as he or she moves.

In its completed form, the hand will hold lightweight equipment capable of shooting X-rays, while another robot will hold the sensor that captures images of the body as moving videos. Although the robots will be attached to a fixed base, there is room for a person to move around normally within their reach. And in the future, said Banks, “we could put these robots on wheels and they could follow you around.”

University of Florida News - For orthopedic injuries, a robot that follows patients as they move


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