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First, scientists converted Robonaut into a full exoskeleton called X1 that can help astronauts exercise and stay healthy while spending long periods in space. But X1 also has potential application closer to home; scientists think paraplegia or stroke patients could use the skeleton to regain some lost motion here on Earth.
"Due to pressurization of the suit, it's like squeezing a balloon every time you move your hand," Lyndon Bridgwater, senior robotics engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement. "That causes extreme fatigue and even injury. We're looking at putting the hardware and actuator in the glove itself to provide muscle augmentation for the hand."
"The robot could stabilize an injured individual or do nursing-level work, even on Earth," Ron Diftler, Robonaut project manager, said in a statement. "That essentially transports a doctor's skill and presence to somewhere the doctor can't go or, in an emergency situation, where it would be dangerous for a person to go."