Robotic suit nothing short of a miracle

December 22, 2010 By Jennifer Frey

In the December 7 episode of the TV hit Glee, the character Artie, a high school student who is confined to a wheelchair, gets up and starts walking. Was the device "just Hollywood magic or based on real science?" asks a recent Newsweek article. The good news for some 125,000 paraplegics in the U.S., is that the device, called ReWalk, got its start at the Technion incubator, and is very real.

ReWalk is a lightweight, that allows paraplegics to stand, walk, and take stairs themselves. Worn around the legs and torso, the device works using a combination of , electric motors, and a computerized backpack - controlled by a wristband. “It shifts a person from a user status to a crutch user status, which is a whole difference,” says its designer, Technion alum Amit Goffer of Argo Medical Technologies in Haifa.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

After a 1997 accident left Goffer paralyzed from the chest down, “I looked around and was wondering how come the wheelchair is the only solution,” he says. Goffer, who was formerly an electrical engineer, quickly got to work on the invention. He soon made a selfless design choice that meant he personally could not use the device: if the wearer could use crutches, it would simplify balance (and conserve energy), as the device wouldn’t have to keep the person upright all on its own.

ReWalk has been used in clinical trials in Israel, and at MossRehab, part of Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia with impressive results. Researchers there are finding that the very act of standing and walking again offers not only emotional rewards, but provides natural exercise for the heart and bones, and lessens some of the complications associated with being wheelchair bound. The device recently received FDA approval for institutional use, and is scheduled for sale to rehab centers as early as January.

“In the near future, we are going to continue to develop the device so that a quadraplegic or tetraplegic like myself will be able to use it,” Goffer says.

Explore further: Mind over body: new hope for quadriplegics

Related Stories

Mind over body: new hope for quadriplegics

March 10, 2008

Around 2.5 million people worldwide are wheelchair bound because of spinal injuries. Half of them are quadriplegic, paralysed from the neck down. European researchers are now offering them new hope thanks to groundbreaking ...

New sensor nanotechnology simplifies disease detection

October 4, 2010

Researchers at Stony Brook University have developed a new sensor nanotechnology that could revolutionize personalized medicine by making it possible to instantly detect and monitor disease by simply exhaling once into a ...

Paraplegics have been given new hope for walking (w/ Video)

October 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Berkeley Bionics unveiled eLEGS exoskeleton at a press conference on October 7 in San Francisco. Berkeley Bionics' CEO, Eythor Bender stated that their mission is to provide people with unprecedented mobility ...

Some brand names are music to our ears, research shows

October 18, 2010

If you're having a bad day, you may want to stay away from listening to commercials for Lululemon or Coca Cola. Or from any retailer or merchandise whose name bears a similarly repetitive phonetic sound.

Recommended for you

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

Smallest 3-D camera offers brain surgery innovation

August 28, 2015

To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kuntur2k
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
Sorry to steal your thunder, but the device existed several years ago in Japan. Japanese scientist are really way ahead in the exoskeleton area.
lexington
1 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2010
This sort of stuff is just going to encourage people to get crippled.
jwalkeriii
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
True. I hate to say this is old news... Though either way it's a wonderful step forward.
VOR
not rated yet Dec 24, 2010
This sort of stuff is just going to encourage people to get crippled.

lol

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.