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The robot suit providing hope of a walking cure

The robot suit providing hope of a walking cure
Source: None

ReWalk Robotics is building a “soft exoskeleton” to help rehabilitate stroke patients and those with spinal cord injury.

It’s not just walking – it’s More Than Walking:

ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals suffering the effects of a stroke, or those with spinal cord injury (SCI) to stand upright, walk, turn, and climb and descend stairs.

Experience More Than Walking Makers say ReWalk Personal System 6.0 is designed for all day walking, available for use at home and in the community. It provides the most precise fit, highest walking speed and most natural gait of any powered exoskeleton. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

The device is a “soft exoskeleton,” designed to help people who have lower limb disability

The Boston-based company that was first to provide robotic legs to paralysed veterans in the U.S., Rewalk Robotics Ltd., has a new product in development. The device is a “soft exoskeleton,” designed to help people who have lower limb disability but who have not severed their spinal cord completely, or otherwise become paraplegic.

According to Rewalk CEO Larry Jasinski, “Many people who have had a stroke can stand up but cannot lift their feet well or cannot put their legs down or propel the leg on their own to walk. If you could help them move their legs, but not have to put a big structure around them, it would be a very attractive option.”

The new product will help Rewalk broaden its market, addressing patients recovering from a stroke, or dealing with everything from the effects of old age to diseases that impair their mobility like MS and Parkinson’s disease. The soft exoskeleton could be utilised by these patients, either long-term or as part of a rehab process.

See below, the moving testimonial of John, a "ReWalker", who has been given a whole new lease of life.

Source: TechCrunch Main Image: ReWalk

John’s ReWalker testimonial Taking steps and walking on your own again is an individual experience. The independence with walking comes from the combination of the person and the technology. Source: Youtube/ReWalkRobotics

A biologically inspired smart suit

Today, Rewalk’s soft exoskeleton prototype looks more like something a rock climber might wear than Transformer parts. Its main elements are: a belt and fanny pack with motors and a computer within, cables that extend down the legs, knee braces to keep them in place and sensor-laden footplates that can fit into a sneaker or other soft shoe.

The waist belt weighs about eight pounds and the cables, braces and footplates add about two more pounds to the total weight, at this point. Rewalk acquired the initial technology design from the Wyss Institute at Harvard, which had begun developing a “biologically inspired smart suit,” the Medexo, with funding from the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) back in 2014. DARPA has long had an interest in technology that can be applied to help soldiers or medics walk farther, or for longer, and carry more weight in the field.

Source: TechCrunch

Rewalk’s soft exoskeleton prototype looks more like something a rock climber might wear than Transformer parts.
“Soft Robotics” Rewalk’s soft exoskeleton prototype looks more like something a rock climber might wear than Transformer parts. Source: ReWalk

Here’s how the new technology helps a patient to walk on their own

 Rewalk CEO Larry Jasinski explains: 

Think about a bicycle. You have cables that transfer force down a line to close a brake down on the bike’s tires. This uses the same principal but is obviously more complex. One cable runs along the outside part on the front of your leg and another on the back. The motor and gear are on your waist attached to the cables. A lightweight brace worn on your calf keeps the cables in place. The computer and our software will tell the motor to turn just enough to lift the cable, pull it and get you ground clearance, then propel your foot forward. Sensors in a footplate in your shoe send data to the computer to let it know everything about your position and when you are walking.”

Rewalk will begin clinical studies of its soft exoskeletons in the back half of 2017. The company seeks to make the device available in 2018, pending FDA approvals. The soft exoskeleton will initially have power sufficient to move the legs, or be constantly walking, for two hours at a stretch.

The company will seek distribution again through the VA health system and private sector rehab centers that already pay for “gait training” systems for stroke patients. Later, the product could be adapted for those with diseases like MS, which strikes more women than men and usually is diagnosed in a person’s late 20s or early 30s, or Parkinson’s.

“If you had a stroke, and you were laying in a hospital bed for 10 days, theoretically you could lose 10% to 20% of your muscle mass,” Jasinski said. If you could use this in recovery, you’d have a much better chance at regaining your mobility in full is the hope. With MS and Parkinson’s we think about using this to walk more, and put off later-stage developments.”

Source: TechCrunch

Make an Impact

6 surprising things you can still do after paralysis

Paralysis changes the capabilities of your body, but it does not change your purpose as a person. It simply alters the way you must approach life and daily activities. You may not be able to walk like you once did, but you can bet there are still ways to get around, and in fact, there are many things you’re still capable of achieving after paralysis!