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We have conducted a critical review on the development of rehabilitation robots to identify the limitations of existing studies and clarify some promising research directions in this field. This paper is presented to summarize our findings and understanding. The demands for assistive technologies for elderly and disabled population have been discussed, the advantages and disadvantages of rehabilitation robots as assistive technologies have been explored, the issues involved in the development of rehabilitation robots are investigated, some representative robots in this field by leading research institutes have been introduced, and a few of critical challenges in developing advanced rehabilitation robots have been identified. Finally to meet the challenges of developing practical rehabilitation robots, reconfigurable and modular systems have been proposed to meet the identified challenges, and a few of critical areas leading to the potential success of rehabilitation robots have been discussed.
The progress on the studies of rehabilitating robots has been significantly lagged in contrast to the emerging society needs. On the one hand, the population who needs assistance and rehabilitation is consistently increasing; on the other hand, the existing rehabilitation robots have the limited capabilities of personalization and yet they are too expensive for the majority of patients. The performances of existing robots have been proven unsatisfactory [1, 2]. The innovations in the development of the next-generation rehabilitation robots can lead to significant benefits to human beings. In this paper, a critical literature review is conducted to identify the limitations of existing works and clarify the prosperous research directions in the development of assistive robots. In the next sections, the needs of assistive technologies in the healthcare industry are introduced…
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