The successful collaboration between ETH Zurich and the Swiss medical technology company Hocoma was awarded with the 2012 Technology Transfer Award at the European Robotics Forum in Denmark last week. The world’s first commercially available robotic arm exoskeleton, the Armeo®Power, provides early rehabilitation for patients with severe neurological movement impairments. The most prestigious prize in European robotics is awarded annually for outstanding innovation and successful technology transfer among science and industry.

For the ninth time the Technology Transfer Award was presented at the European Robotics Forum, held from March 5 to 7, 2012. Often referred to as the Tech Transfer Award, it is the most prestigious prize in European robotics. It honors outstanding innovations and successful transfers of technology among science and industry.

Prof. Dr. Robert Riener of ETH Zurich and Dr. Alexander Duschau-Wicke from the Swiss medical technology company Hocoma convinced the international jury with their presentation of the ARMin. The ARMin was originally developed at the ETH Zurich under the supervision of Prof. Riener and his PhD student Tobias Nef (now a professor at the University of Bern) for robot-assisted neurorehabilitation, and was clinically tested at the Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich. The development was followed by intensive testing at four leading Swiss neurorehabilitation centers (Balgrist University Hospital, the Centre for Ambulatory Rehabilitation (ZAR) in Zurich, Zürcher Höhenklinik Wald and Reha Rheinfelden) within a clinical trial funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). End of 2011, the ARMin was introduced to the market by Hocoma as the ArmeoPower. The ArmeoPower is the world’s first commercially available robotic arm exoskeleton for neurorehabilitation.

Robotic arm and hand therapy for neurorehabilitation

The ArmeoPower is a rehabilitative exercise device specifically designed for arm and hand therapy in an early stage of rehabilitation. It offers highly repetitive training for patients who have suffered strokes, traumatic brain injuries or other neurological disorders resulting in severe arm and hand impairments. Due to neural plasticity, highly repetitive training allows the gradual reorganization of the brain, which subsequently allows the restoration and relearning of motor function. With the “assist-as-needed” arm support, the ArmeoPower recognizes when the patient is not able to carry out a movement and guides the patient’s arm as much as needed. It adapts the arm support to the individual needs and changing abilities of each patient – from complete guidance to no support at all. With the Augmented Performance Feedback and its self-initiated and functional exercises patients train activities of daily living in an extensive 3D workspace. Immediate performance feedback motivates the patients and helps them to improve their motor abilities.

The ArmeoPower has been available since November 2011 and has already been successfully implemented in clinical routine and research in five different countries including the USA, Germany and Italy.