The SMILING Project: Prevention of Falls by a Mechatronic Training Device

M. Bulgheroni, E. D'Amico (Italy), S. Bar-Haim (Israel), D. Carus, C. Harrison (UK), and F. Marcellini (Italy)


Home care, Rehabilitation, Geriatrics, Robotics, Biomechanics, Chaos


Ageing is characterized by functional changes that can create gait and balance disturbances, which are the main risk factors of falling. Elderly people at risk of falling can be considered to be suffering from an involuntary motor behaviour that restricts their participation in society. One method to overcome such a situation is to activate a new learning process to train for real life tasks, which represents innovation. The SMILING system is intended to challenge the elderly to solve new motor problems in real time by inducing variable environments that need active response and problem solving. Variable environments induced by perturbations will weaken stiff motor behaviour(s), induce flexibility and thus enable effective training and improve mobility in real life environments. The SMILING solution provides a changeable yet safe environment that needs active response and problem solving by the user. It consists of a wearable non-invasive computer-controlled system that applies chaotic perturbations to the lower extremities during walking through small alterations of the height and slope of weight-bearing surfaces. The complete system consists of 3 modules: i) a complete walking analysis system; ii) a pair of motorised training shoes; iii) a user friendly portable control unit.

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