For stroke victims and spinal cord injury victims relearning basic tasks can be very difficult and a slow process. Not only do neural pathways need to be re-established in many cases, but the muscles atrophy quickly without use and are unable to perform as they once did.
Many are finding hope of recovery by wearing an exoskeleton. Patients often describe that by wearing the device it is easier for them to re-learn how the muscles move which in turn gives then inspiration to continue the hard work on their path to recovery. Ekso Bionics is a leading manufacturer o the exoskeletons, which are becoming lighter and more sophisticated.
Exoskeletons can be found in rehab facilities as well as in industrial use. The skeletons and vests help assembly line workers boost arm and shoulder strength and stability helping them avoid strain and repetitive use injuries. They also reduce fatigue substantially.
It is the industrial use development that is advancing the medical use innovations. The exoskeletons designed for medical use typically feature leg braces and a vest with motors for the hips, knees, and foot sensors. The sophisticated computer systems sense the direction of weight shift and helps the stepping motion. The motors can provide all or part of the energy required to move. This is valuable in rehab settings.
Ekso has shipped over 200 units to hospitals for use in research and rehabilitation and continues to do so. You can watch their video on the wearable exoskeletons featuring footage from Richmond B.C.
“Ekso Bionics is the only exoskeleton company to offer technologies that range from helping those with paralysis to stand up and walk, to enhancing human capabilities on job sites across the globe, to providing research for the advancement of R&D projects”