Saturday, June 28, 2014

Motorized exoskeleton for paralyzed people approved by FDA

From The Washington Post:

It’s being called an exoskeleton for the paralyzed — a device consisting of leg braces, motion sensors, motorized joints, a computer and a remote control that helps people who are paralyzed from the waist down to sit, stand and walk with assistance.

And it’s the first such motorized device to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration‘s stamp of approval for home use. It’s already in use in rehabilitation facilities.

ReWalk was built for people who are disabled by some spinal cord injuries. It was developed by the founder of Israel-based Argo Medical Technologies, who was paralyzed in a vehicle crash.

The device uses braces with motion sensors that strap around the legs. Motorized joints supply movement to the hips, knees and ankles. A backpack holds a computer and power supply, and crutches offer stability. The user wears a wireless remote control on the wrist through which he can command ReWalk to stand up, sit down or walk — with a little help.

“Innovative devices such as ReWalk go a long way towards helping individuals with spinal cord injuries gain some mobility,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Along with physical therapy, training and assistance from a caregiver, these individuals may be able to use these devices to walk again in their homes and in their communities.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 200,000 people in the United States living with a spinal cord injury.