A Lincoln University academic and several PhD students are developing a robotic walker to improve the mobility of older adults and the disabled, as well as help prevent them from falling.
Dr Khaled Goher, of Lincoln’s Department of Informatics and Enabling Technology, says existing walkers often fail to meet people’s needs.
“Coming up with a new solution is important for New Zealand’s ageing population.
“We want our robotic walker to improve the quality of life of disabled and older adults by helping them to become more independent.
“Our proposed technology can provide several advantages. The walker will be portable, lightweight and designed to prevent falls using a sensing system to monitor body posture and mechanical setups to provide support.
“These features are not available on existing walkers and this has a negative impact on elderly people’s living independence, which can lead to physical and cognitive degradation.”
Dr Goher says the project team will consider various levels of mobility and rehabilitation solutions to maximise the impact of the technology.
“We expect the product to reduce health expenditure in New Zealand, boost the country’s exports in medical technology and improve healthcare delivery.”
Dr Goher says different types of robots play substantial roles in the medical sector, especially for older people.
With this in mind, he has also initiated a project to investigate the general use of medical robots from older people’s perspectives to identify their needs, expectations and preferences.
“The findings of this research project will help robot designers, developers and programmers to produce robots that fulfil elderly people’s needs and improve their quality of life,” he says.
PHOTO: Dr Khaled Goher