Wearable bionic legs help paraplegics walk again…
Another exoskeleton, this time promising to give paraplegics the ability to walk again, will go on sale this month following several years of successful clinical trials in Israel and the United States.
Marketed as the first ‘commercially viable upright walking assistance tool’, the ReWalk wearable robotic legs weigh 15 kg and consist of robotic leg braces, an array of body sensors, a wrist control unit and a backpack containing the computerized control system and a battery.
The wearer can control specific settings via the wrist remote control, then to start the device the user simply stands up and leans forward. Crutches are used for stability, while the body sensors read, then adjust and shift the user’s weight accordingly.
ReWalk was designed by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, who decided to set about developing such a device following a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down in 1997.
Unfortunately, Goffer cannot yet reap the benefits of his own invention as he does not have full use of his arms. He does however, hope that his device will help thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people to walk again.
In the video, Goffer says that the main benefit of the ReWalk is not the gift of walking itself, but the self esteem and dignity it gives the wearer. And aside from the psychological benefits, the ReWalk also helps alleviate the health-related problems often associated with long-term wheelchair use.
Goofer set up Argo Medical Technologies to commercialize the device, and according to the UK’s Daily Mail, ReWalk will go on sale this month for around $100,000.
Contrary to company’s quotes, the ReWalk robotic legs are not the first to hit the commercial market. Rex Bionic eLegs have been available in New Zealand since last year, and are around the same price.
The UK’s BBC has also reported that a Japanese company called Cyberdyne (who hopefully do not have plans of unleashing Judgement Day on us) has developed a similar robotic leg brace dubbed the Hybrid Assistive Limb which is currently undergoing trials at hospitals in Japan.
- Kat Hannaford: Robotic Trousers For Paralyzed Patients Will Go On Sale Next Month. Gizmodo, 12/06/2010.
- Unknown: Paralyzed inventor to sell robotic 'trousers'. Daily Mail, 12/04/2010.
- Roland Buerk: 'Robotic legs' help stroke patients to walk again. BBC, 12/04/2010.
- Image Source: Argo Technologies, 2010.
- Video Source: Israeli Exoskeleton Suit Enables Paralyzed People To Walk. InfoLive via YouTube, 08/26/2008.