Human-like Robot MARKO in the Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Book Chapter

B. Borovac; M. Gnjatović; S. Savić; M. Raković; M. Nikolić

New Trends in Medical and Service Robots, series Mechanisms and Machine Science, Springer, Interational


pp. 191-203


Actual research in the field of robot-supported therapy is dominantly oriented on systems for clinical neurorehabilitation of motoric disorders and therapy of difficulties related to autism. However, very little attention is dedicated to the functional development of the therapeutic robot, which would be capableof participating, actively and intelligently, in a verbal dialogue of natural-sounding language with a patientand therapist. In this paper an approach is presented for incorporating the human-like robot MARKO in the physical therapy for children with cerebral palsy (CP). The mechanical design of the robot MARKO isbriefly described and its context aware cognitive system which connects modules for sensorimotor system,speech recognition,speech synthesis and robot vision is presented. The robot is conceived as a child’s playmate, able to manage three-party natural language conversation with a child and a therapist involved.Traditional CP physical therapies are usually repetitive, lengthy and tedious which results in patient’s lack of interest and disengagement with the therapy. On the other hand, treatment progress and the improvement of the neural functionality are directly proportional to the amount of time spent exercising. The idea is to use the robot to assist doctors in habilitation/rehabilitation of children, with a basic therapeutical role to motivate the children to practice therapy harder and longer. To achieve this, the robot must fulfill several requirements: it must have hardware design which provides sufficient capabilities for demonstration of gross and fine motor skills exercises, it must have appropriate character design to be able to establish affective attachment of the child, and it must be able to communicate with children verbally (speech recognition and synthesis,) and non-verbally (facial expressions, gestures).