For people paralyzed from the waist down, standing upright and walking could feel as miraculous as walking on water. A miracle or simply enabling technology, one new invention represents an ergonomic solution to a devastating disability.
Argo Medical Technologies, a small Israeli high-tech company that invented and is developing ReWalk™, describes it as a wearable, motorized quasi robotic suit. It gives users the day-long ability to walk, stand from sitting position, climb stairs, ascend and descend slopes – and drive.
Exercising even paralyzed limbs in the course of movement, ReWalk™ alleviates many of the health-related problems associated with long-term wheelchair use. These include urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive problems, as well as osteoporosis and pressure sores.
A backpack, leg braces and remote-control wristband comprise the invention. Users initiate movements from the wrist control. Leaning forwards activates body sensors that set the robotic legs in motion.
Motion sensors, robotic control algorithms, on-board computers, real-time software, actuation motors, rechargeable batteries and composite materials add up to a means of expanding control over mobility beyond what is available for wheelchair users. The user’s participation in the movement promises emotional benefits as well as alleviation of wheelchair-related health problems.
The company points out that the invention is not for all wheelchair-bound people. Users must be strong enough to use their hands and shoulders, have a healthy cardiovascular system and adequate bone density.
The device, which is now in clinical trials in Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Centre, is the brainchild of engineer and Argo founder Amit Goffer. His own paralysis inspired him to look for an alternative to the wheelchair for mobility.
Source: Argo Technologies