Human-like Robot MARKO in the Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Conference paper
Part of the Mechanisms and Machine Science book series (Mechan. Machine Science, volume 38)


Actual research in the field of robot-supported therapy is dominantly oriented on systems for clinical neurorehabilitation of motor disorders and therapy of difficulties related to autism. However, very little attention is dedicated to the functional development of the therapeutic robot, which would be capable of participating, actively and intelligently, in a verbal dialogue of natural language with a patient and therapist. In this paper an approach is presented for incorporating the human-like robot MARKO in the physical therapy for children with cerebral palsy (CP). The mechanical design of the robot MARKO is briefly described and its context aware cognitive system which connects modules for sensorimotor system, speech recognition, speech synthesis and robot vision is presented. The robot is conceived as a child’s playmate, able to manage three-party natural language conversation with a child and a therapist involved. Traditional CP physical therapies are usually repetitive, lengthy and tedious which results in a patient’s lack of interest and disengagement with the therapy. On the other hand, treatment progress and the improvement of the neural functionality are directly proportional to the amount of time spent exercising. The idea is to use the robot to assist doctors in habilitation/rehabilitation of children, with a basic therapeutical role to motivate the children to practice therapy harder and longer. To achieve this, the robot must fulfill several requirements: it must have hardware design which provides sufficient capabilities for demonstration of gross and fine motor skills exercises, it must have appropriate character design to be able to establish affective attachment of the child, and it must be able to communicate with children verbally (speech recognition and synthesis), and non-verbally (facial expressions, gestures).


Assistive robot Cerebral palsy Social robot Adaptive behavior Context awareness 



This work was funded by the Ministry of education and science of the Republic of Serbia under contract III44008 and by Provincial secretariat for science and technological development under contract 114-451-2116/2011. The authors would like to thank the company Dunkermotoren for its support and equipment donation.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Technical SciencesUniversity of Novi SadNovi SadSerbia

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