Get to know the organisers - Verena Klamroth
Verena Klamroth is the Medical coordinator of the Cybathlon. Read about her motivations behind her job and what her hopes for the event are.
Name and job title for Cybathlon
Verena Klamroth, Medical Coordinator
Tell us a bit about who you are, your background etc.
As a medical doctor it is rather unusual to work at ETH Zurich together with mainly technical staff. But I think that interdisciplinarity is becoming increasingly important: By combining different academic disciplines into one activity boundaries are crossed and something new can be created. The patients benefit from medically grounded knowledge about their needs combined with cutting-edge technology.
The combination of clinical work with patients and a technical environment with engineers accommodates my disposition for both fields.
How did you come to work on the Cybathlon Committee? What is your motivation?
The ultimate goal of the Cybathlon is to improve quality of life of people who suffer from physical impairment. The techniques presented at the event offer treatment beyond the typical medical field, with devices that do not primarily offer treatment but provide support in daily life.
I think that through the Cybathlon not only the awareness in society about the problems of handicapped people will increase but also, that it will generate an incentive for faster development of technical solutions that eventually increase independence and life quality. I am glad that I have the chance to be part of the organisational team that realises this important and grand idea.
Do you have any concerns about the event?
The Cybathlon is an international sporting event. The techniques provided are mostly well advanced, still under development and hence often expensive. I would have wished that pilots from all social strata and from all over the world could participate. Hopefully, all these people, being children or elderly, will benefit from future outputs of the Cybathlon.
What do you hope will come out of the Cybathlon? E.g. new technologies, increase awareness, motivation for patients when they can see success stories
I believe that a key element of life quality is independence, and the technical devices that are presented at the Cybathlon help to achieve physical independence. A positive event such as the Cybathlon can give hope to those affected and will encourage them to seek their independence.
With your medical background, have you seen an increase in the use of robotics in hospitals? What do you think the overall effect on patients and healthcare staff is?
Robotics for rehabilitation training is more and more becoming part of routine therapy. The combination of conventional and robot-assisted therapies brings success to the rehabilitation; neither can be replaced by the other. Obviously, the technical development affects the profession of a therapist as, additional to providing therapy, he/she has to operate highly developed machines. In the future, a single therapist might supervise several patients during robotic-assisted training. Furthermore, new technologies may begin to enter homes where patients may be able to train independently on a device.
The benefit lies in the chance to intensify therapy without increasing costs for society.