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Robotic skeleton to fight paralysis

Synthetic muscles help patients remember movement

Lest there be any doubt, the science of robotics isn't being used only to produce novelty toys or to populate Japan's service industry. This robotic skeleton, by contrast, has been developed by Japanese researchers with a decidedly humanitarian goal: to help the partially paralyzed regain movement.

Using the synthetic blue muscles of the exoskeleton pictured here, patients can theoretically help their limbs relearn their intended motions. A paralyzed left arm, for example, can mimic the movement of a healthy right one to help patients remember "the feeling of moving the arm themselves," according to Ubergizmo. The skeleton, developed jointly by Panasonic and Kobe Gakuin University, weighs about 4 pounds and could be on the market by 2009.