Thanks to the efforts of Argo Medical Technologies, paraplegics may soon be given the chance to know what it's like to stand up and walk again. Engineer Amit Goffer, founder of the Israeli high-tech company, developed an electronic exoskeleton called "ReWalk", which can help people paralyzed from the waist down to stand, walk, and even climb stairs.
One of the first beneficiaries of technology is former Israeli paratrooper, Radi Kaiof, who was injured in 1988 while serving in the military. Today, Kaiof is now able to walk the streets for the first time in 20 years.
It mainly consists of motorized leg supports, body sensors, and a backpack containing a computerized control box and rechargeable batteries. The user can adjust the settings with a remote control wrist band for different type of movements, leaning forward to activate the body sensors and setting the robotic legs in motion.
The device serves to help patients both physically and psychologically. Aside from allowing the muscles to function from an upright state, it also allows people to live at the upright level and make eye contact with others.
The exoskeleton is slated for commercial use in 2010, and will cost as much as the high-end wheelchairs in the market today (around US$ 20,000). ReWalk is currently undergoing clinical trials in Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Centre and will soon be shipped to the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute in Pennsylvania for testing.
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