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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M026388/1
Title: Wearable Soft Robotics for Independent Living
Principal Investigator: Rossiter, Professor JM
Other Investigators:
Goodridge, Dr R O'Connor, Dr R J Dehghani-Sanij, Professor AA
Harris, Professor RA Turton, Dr A Freeman, Dr CT
Buis, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering Mathematics
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: IDEAS Factory Sandpits
Starts: 01 July 2015 Ends: 30 June 2018 Value (£): 2,026,737
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomechanics & Rehabilitation Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project addresses the growing healthcare needs of people to live independently with dignity. There are 10.8 million disabled people living in the UK today (Office for Disability Issues 2010). Nearly 6.5 million have mobility impairments; 6 million have an impairment of lifting and carrying; 2.4 million have impaired co-ordination. Many of these people are supplied with assistive and rehabilitative technologies (ART), but much ART has low user acceptability and concordance, and may have a negative impact on people's perceived dignity. Many people do not use ART correctly, or at all, and many people find ART devices undignified. In extreme cases ill-fitting or ill-prescribed ART may even cause injury or increase disability. The consequence of this lack of effective and acceptable ART is that people living with mobility impairments are more prone to conditions such as poor circulation, skin pressure damage and falls. Each of these conditions has an enormous public health implication and together they constitute a substantial drain on health and social care resources. The cost of falls to the NHS is £2Bn, skin pressure damage £2.1Bn, and the overall cost of stroke to health and social care services and the loss of income is £9.8Bn.

This project will be the first time that emerging soft robotics technologies are employed to address multiple rehabilitation and health care needs in one single class of wearable device, enabling effective and comfortable rehabilitation, functional restoration and long term assisted living. In contrast to conventional rigid robotics, the inherent physical compatibility of soft robotics with biological tissue and human motion means that truly adaptive assistive and rehabilitative technologies (or aART) can be realised. Soft robotic aART has the potential to be the ubiquitous, low cost and highly adaptable technology that transforms independent living for the disabled and infirm.

The exciting challenge of this project is to develop fundamental soft robot technologies needed to deliver wearable soft robotic assistive clothing and devices that are: 1. Effective in respect to a patient and their clinical need; 2. Easy to use; and, 3. Highly adaptable. The outcome of this project will be two fully tested soft robotic wearable demonstrator devices.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Impacts
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Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk