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Improving Health through Rehabilitation Robotic Technology (R43/R44)

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Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Program/Year: SBIR / 2014
Solicitation Number: RFA-HD-15-001
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Open Date: October 13, 2014
Close Date: November 13, 2014
001: Funding Opportunity Description

The NIH encourages research on robotic technology development to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce disability. The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to encourage the translation of rehabilitation robotic technology to assist health care providers and individuals in need of rehabilitation.


The NIH is collaborating on a multi-agency funding opportunity, the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) led by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (NOT-EB-13-005) whose goal is to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States.  However, the joint solicitation does not directly address technology transfer and applied research.  Therefore, this initiative encourages development of affordable and accessible rehabilitation robotic technologies.  Medicine and health care could benefit from rapid translation and adoption of these advances in robotic technology to meet the need for personalized health care through effective and safe interventions and therapies.

Specific Areas of Research Interests

This funding opportunity announcement would support Phase I and/or Phase II SBIR projects to translate state of the art robotic technology in a broad range of environments and user populations.  This initiative encourages development of affordable and accessible rehabilitation robotic technology that utilizes rehabilitation robots to facilitate functional independence, improve quality of life, assist with behavior therapy, provide personalized care in the clinic and/or at home and promote wellness/health in persons with disabilities across the lifespan.  Assistive rehabilitation robotic software and/or hardware system development of interest include, but are not limited to those that:

  • Reduce the secondary health effects that follow reduced mobility such as obesity, joint contracture, etc.
  • Establish optimal patient specific rehabilitation, such as programs designed to establish timing intensity and duration of interventions,
  • Support of life-long cognitive, social, and physical disorders requiring on-going behavioral therapy,
  • Provide personalized care for special needs populations, and
  • Increase wellness/ health promotion and maintenance.

The NIH is still interested in supporting robotic advancements for surgical health interventions and robotic exoskeletons; however, these topics are not responsive to this solicitation.