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Modern Technology Enables Paralyzed to Walk Again (Video)
As we all know, there are many disadvantages to not being able to walk. Besides the obvious, there are also the health problemsincluding bed sores, muscle spasms, bone decay, circulatory, respiratory, and urinary problems. Two companies now have products that will help, Rex Biotics and Argo Medical Technologies. They make robotic exoskeleton specifically for wheelchair users. This technology was originally developed for military use to amplify soldier's movements and to give them increased endurance, speed, and strength. However, these robotic exoskeletons are able to make paralyzed individuals walk.
Rex Biotics, located in Auckland New Zealand, calls theirs REX. REX makes it possible for users to stand, walk, turn around, and go up and down stairs and slopes. It was developed by Robert Irving, when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and his longtime friend Richard Little, both Engineers. The device is strapped on to the legs with a series of Velcro and buckled straps. It is controlled by a joystick at the waist level. The battery last for about two hours and can be easily changed to a charged one. A medical examination must be done to ensure the user can walk without it causing further health problems. At this time Rex is only suitable for manual wheelchair users that can transfer. The user must be between 4'8" and 6'4", weigh less than 220lbs and have a hip width of less than 15". When purchasing the REX, 20 hours of customization and training are spread out over 2 weeks. Right now the REX is able to be sold in Europe and Australia and the company is working on the requirements for the FDA's approval to sell in the U.S.A.
Argo Medical Technologies are marketing the product Rewalk, designed by Amit Goffer of Israel. After being paralyzed in a car accident the entrepreneur decided to try to design "robotic trousers" to replace the wheelchair. The Rewalk uses motion sensors to detect upper-body movements and changes in the user's center of gravity which causes the motorized joints to move. Crutches are used to help with balance which means it also is more suitable for users with movement in their hands and upper body. Goffer, who is a quadriplegic, is unable to use this product but he is working on a version that is able to be used by quadriplegics. The legs are held in place by leg braces and a harness strapped around the waist and shoulders. The rechargeable battery has a 3.5 hour life. Patients use ReWalk for an hour a day, three times a week. It is already showing signs of improving the health of its users. The Rewalk has completed its clinical trials and has now received the FDA's approval to be sold to rehabilitation center. The Rewalk was featured on the TV Show 'Glee' in December as a gift to Artie granting the wish made by Brittany to Santa asking him to make Artie walk again.
New Graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development of Persons with Disabilities - UMass