Abstract: In the last decades, many specialized research centers attempted to employ robots in the rehabilitation field. Especially orthopedic rehabilitation and neurorehabilitation benefited from these cutting-edge technologies. Although a broad literature on the benefits of robot-assisted rehabilitation assesses the effectiveness of the direction taken by scientists, only in few cases a robotic lab-oriented prototype leaded to a commercial robot. This apparent contradiction should not deter researchers from continuing improving robotic tools and related rehabilitation protocols. On the contrary, it should be a starting point for a new generation of rehabilitation robots capable of shrinking the gap between academic lab-oriented ideas and affordable clinical solutions.
According to this philosophy, several underrated problems are to be taken into account. In particular a rehabilitation robot has to be cost-affordable, lightweight, easily transportable and equipped with a user-friendly interface suitable for non trained operators. Moreover, not only safety issues need to be fully addressed but also the tolerability of the robot by the patient.
Starting from these considerations, a new generation of wire-based robots for upper-limb rehabilitation is proposed. In particular, the work focuses on 2 wire-based prototypes which can be classified according to the number of degrees of freedom (DoF): the NeReBot (NEuroREhabilitation roBOT, 3 DoF) and the MariBot (MARIsa roBOT, 5 DoF). Experimental results performed in a clinical environment showed the effectiveness of the wire-based robot-assisted rehabilitation. At the same time, they helped to trace new guidelines for future work.