Australian-developed technology from Opengear is enabling remote maintenance of hospital robots that are crucial to the recovery of stroke patients.
Last month, the US company, Interactive Motion Technologies, reported it had successfully deployed the Brisbane based company's remote management gateways to a number of its internationally-located InMotion neurorehabilitation robots.
Using Opengear’s solution, Interactive Motion can perform remote maintenance of robots in hospitals all over the world from the company’s headquarters in Boston.
Service calls can now be completed from the Boston office, and minor robot updates no longer require a tech to travel to each site, rendering unnecessary what had been huge cost and time expenditures associated with travel for minor updates.
“We call the Opengear product a miracle” Interactive Motion scientist Dr Daniel M. Drucker said. “It feels like magic.
“The idea that I have this robot I’ve helped to make, and I expected I’d never be able to connect to again unless I travelled to where it is and typed on the console; suddenly I’m able to take this box, ship it and have them plug it in.
"And now I’m here in Boston, type a couple commands, and a minute later I’m connected and able to issue commands on this robot. And it’s going over the global cell network.”
InMotion robot-assisted therapy helps moderate to severe stroke patients reacquire and improve motor skills in impaired upper limbs.
Leveraging the brain’s incredible neuroplasticity, an InMotion robot will guide a patient’s arm through a range of motions, assisting the movements as needed. These motions cause the brain to rewire its neurons, and relearn how to control the body.
The robot takes the patient’s own movements as feedback, tapering off its assistance as the patient’s brain learns and regains motor control. In this way, InMotion robots take patients from an utterly passive role to an active role, so that by the end of therapy the robot is adding zero assistance.
Interactive Motion is currently investigating additional opportunities to integrate Opengear’s solution as a part of their product.
Interactive Motion selected the Opengear ACM5004-G-E for maintaining the systems of InMotion robots worldwide via secure cellular out-of-band connections.
The robots have been at use in hospitals around the world for more than a decade, with some models still running on legacy versions of Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux.
These systems are not on the Internet or even local Ethernet networks, are out of date with security patches, and cannot be connected to hospital networks.
Opengear chief executive, Rick Stevenson, said it was an exciting time to see Opengear technology deployed in a way that not only saved businesses time and money, but also played a role in helping rehabilitate stroke patients via the extraordinary InMotion robot.
“On the business side, the trouble and costs of travelling internationally for trivial maintenance issues are exactly the kind of burden our cellular out-of-band gateways with secure tunnelling are designed to solve," he said.
"All Interactive Motion had to do was ship the gateways with instructions to plug them in.
"Now, the ACM5004-G-E makes it so their technicians can access the robots from home, and they’re doing nine out of every 10 service calls with no travel required.”