Suffering from back pain? A robotic massage therapist developed by a Singapore-based startup may help relieve muscle strains and injuries.
Emma, or Short for Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, a robotic arm with a 3D-printed massage tip, can resolve some of the challenges faced by sports therapy clinics, such as a shortage of trained therapists and a need to deliver high quality therapy consistently.
Developed by AiTreat, a start-up company founded by Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) graduate Albert Zhang, Emma is undergoing user trials at a medical institution that offers sports injury rehabilitation and pain management.
“We have designed Emma as a clinically precise tool that can automatically carry out treatment for patients as prescribed by a physiotherapist or Chinese physician,” said Zhang, who graduated in 2010 from NTU.
“Our aim is not to replace the therapists who are skilled in sports massage and acupoint therapy, but to improve productivity by enabling one therapist to treat multiple patients with the help of our robots,” he said.
The robot consists of a single, 6-axis robotic arm capable of highly articulated movements, a 3D-stereoscopic camera for vision, and a customised, fully rotatable 3D-printed massage tip.
Several safety features which work in tandem with advanced pressure sensors are also in-built, to ensure the comfort and the safety of its patients.
To ensure a consistent quality of therapy, Emma has sensors and diagnostic functions that will measure the progress of the patient and the exact stiffness of a particular muscle or tendon.
For the first time in TCM treatment, patients can accurately measure their recovery progress using precise empirical data.
In addition, the treatment programmes can be adjusted according to the progress of the patients’ recovery.