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MIT Technology Review

Ankles Away

Sidelined with an ankle injury and looking to rehab without visits to a therapist? Soon you may be able to strap on a mechanized device that allows your therapist to monitor your exercises online. Once hooked up to the Rutgers Ankle, built at Rutgers University’s Human Machine Interface Laboratory, your injured foot rests on a platform that stands on six pneumatic cylinders. The cylinders deliver forces to the platform to move the foot or restrain its movement. Specific exercise-simulation software prescribed for the patient regulates the forces and records the resistance offered by the foot; a therapist can monitor the session online. To beat boredom, the software integrates games with the exercise-for instance, ankle movements can operate a flight simulator. The Rutgers lab expects clinical trials to begin within a year.