Ontological Reasoning for Rehabilitation Robotics

Posted on June 19th, 2011

Physical rehabilitation therapy is indispensable for treating neurological disabilities. Using robotic devices to assist repetitive and labor intensive rehabilitation exercises help decrease physical burden of the therapists and application related costs. As the number of rehabilitation robots increase, the information about them also increases, but most of the time in unstructured forms (e.g., as text in publications). This makes it harder to access the requested knowledge and thus reason about it. To facilitate access to requested knowledge about rehabilitation robots, we have designed and developed the first formal rehabilitation robotics ontology, called RehabRobo-Onto, in OWL, collaborating with experts in robotics and in physical medicine. To facilitate easy modification and use of RehabRobo-Onto by experts, we have developed a software (called RehabRobo-Query) with an intelligent user-interface. In this way, experts do not need to know logic-based representation languages of ontologies, like OWL, or Semantic Web technologies, for information entry, retrieval and modification. The ontology system consisting of RehabRobo-Onto and RehabRobo-Query is of great value to robot designers as well as physical therapists and medical doctors. On the one hand, robot designers can benefit from the system, for instance, to identify robotic devices targeting similar therapeutic exercises or to determine systems using a particular kind of actuation-transmission pair to achieve a range of motion that exceeds some threshold. Availability of such information may help inspire new designs or may lead to a better decision making process.  On the other hand, physical therapists and medical doctors can utilize the ontology to compare rehabilitation robots and to identify the ones that serve best to cover their needs, or to evaluate the effects of various devices for targeted joint exercises on patients with specific disorders.

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