Walking After A Stroke

prof mcdaid

While most of his fellow engineering students were focussing on manufacturing industries, Andrew McDaid wanted to find ways to use his mechanical nous for patient treatment, and he may now be on the cusp of transforming the lives of stroke patients.

Andrew McDaid, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland’s Engineering Faculty, has created a “wearable robot” to help people recover from a stroke and regain their independence.

“Most of my colleagues in engineering went to work on robotics for manufacturing and traditional fields. I wanted to do something that directly helps people who need it most and has a positive impact on their lives.”

Assoc Professor McDaid collaborated with the University’s Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences to identify how best to help patients recover from a stroke.

McDaid and his team designed the Re-Link Trainer (RLT) in partnership with a multidisciplinary team that included a neuroscientist, clinicians and physiotherapists.

“Walking is one of the most important capabilities people want to regain after a stroke. It’s what makes them be able to get out and do things and be independent. With continued gait issues, people will get out less, feel isolated and deteriorate quickly.”

Instead of trying to rehabilitate someone to fix a bad walking pattern, the RLT is designed to prevent them from acquiring a bad gait after their injury.

“Imagine a Zimmer frame with a robotic attachment that connects to your leg and puts it in the correct walking pattern. You take a step with your good leg and then the robot will guide you to take another step with your impaired leg but it does it in a proper movement rather than a limp.”