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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 12:54 GMT
Patients may be treated by robots
Picture of the robotic physiotherapy device being developed by scientists
Physiotherapists hope the device will cut waiting times.
Patients needing physiotherapy could soon find themselves treated by robots carrying out repeated limb movements.

Scientists in South Yorkshire have designed a prototype system called NeXos which can be instructed to remember and repeat certain tasks.

Physiotherapists worked with experts at Sheffield's University, Hallam University, Barnsley NHS Trust and the University of Abertay on the project.

The design team say more patients could be treated and waiting lists cut down.

Dr Sue Mawson, one of the research physiotherapists involved in developing the system, said: "The NeXOS system needs to be trialled clinically, but offers the potential for physiotherapists to effectively treat more patients.

"It requires the expertise of a physiotherapy professional to assess the patient's needs, programme the exercises and to analyse the data to check its effectiveness, but takes away the need for all treatment to be conducted face-to-face, in one-to-one sessions."

Dr Mawson, of Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for Heath and Social Care Research, added: "This system is also good news for patients as it will allow them to schedule their therapy more easily to fit in with their lives, rather than having to meet appointment times with therapists. It will also cut waiting times for treatment.

"The beauty of the system is that the therapist would be able to monitor progress, adapt the programme remotely, and to easily assess when a patient needs a follow-up session face-to-face."

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