The Food and Drug Administration approved of ReWalk, the first motorized wearable exoskeleton, to be released in the United States this past month. The release of the device marks huge strides forward for paraplegics as well as those that suffer from other spinal injuries.
ReWalk consists of a fitted, metal brace that supports the legs and part of the upper body; motors that supply movement at the hips, knees, and ankles; a tilt sensor; and a backpack that contains the computer and power supply. Crutches provide the user with additional stability when walking, standing, and rising up from a chair. Using a wireless remote control worn on the wrist, the user commands ReWalk to stand up, sit down or walk. The independent system mimicks the natural strides of an able-bodied person, giving a natural feel to the metal exoskeleton.
Not only does the exoskeleton provide the ability of walking to those previously unable to, it gives numerous health benefits to those with such debilitating spinal injuries. According to data from ReWalk, the exoskeleton can provide improvements in “cardiovascular health, loss of fat tissue, building of lean muscle, and improved bowel function.” These remarkable improvements to general health make the exoskeleton a leap forward in health technology, making it no surprise that it is the most popular exoskeleton available in the world.
ReWalk Robotics has been creating exoskeletons for well over ten years, with extensive testing in the United States, Israel, and Europe. Currently, ReWalk offers a rehabilitation version and a personalized home version, however the home version can only be purchased once adequate training has been done in rehabilitation with a trained physician.
For more information on the announcement, check out the press release from the FDA.