Amit Goffer, the founder of Argo Medical Technologies, recently unveiled a revolutionary exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to stand, walk, and even climb stairs. The bionic device, called ReWalk, is a RoboCop-style suit outfitted with sensors and servos that utilize simple body movements to produce life-changing results.
The ReWalk incorporates belted crutches for balance, motorized leg supports, body sensors and a backpack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries. The user is given complete control of the system with a remote control wristband, which enables them to stand, sit, walk, descend, and climb. The various settings are activated by simply leaning forward, which signals body sensors that set the robotic legs in motion. Based on trials, including tests with spinal injury patients in Italy, it takes a user about 10 hours to be completely trained on the system.
ReWalk has already piqued the interest of the UK military as a remedy for injured soldiers, and a consumer version is anticipated to be released this year. Cyclone Technologies is currently slated to introduce the system to the UK.
As Managing Director Dave Hawkins relayed, “For a paraplegic like myself it means everything. It means I can look my kids in the eye standing up, it means I can give my girlfriend a cuddle. It means you can do normal things like going to a gig and standing up to watch.” He continues, “We are marketing it towards the military. It would be fantastic for people returning injured from Afghanistan to find they’re not stuck as a paraplegic. Towards the end of this year we shall have a personal model that will be tailored to match an individual’s physical capability, following medical assessment and training in a rehabilitation centre.”
The system will be available for £50,000 to personal users this year – surely a small price to pay for the ability to walk.