ReWalk exoskeleton helps paralyzed person to create natural walking movements

ReWalk,
an invention of Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, who was paralyzed in a 1997
accident, clasps on to the legs and waist, and is designed to create natural
walking movements, including standing, sitting and turning through upper-body
motion sensors and special software. Medical experts say its use helps keep
organs and bones healthy and also enhances mental well-being. The product was
one of the Israeli technologies highlighted with much fanfare as a symbol of
flourishing commercial ties when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Israeli Premier
Benjamin Netanyahu during Abe’s visit to the Middle East earlier this year.

Source: ReWalk

ARGO
Medical Technologies’ ReWalk exoskeleton was one of the cutting-edge Israeli
inventions demonstrated to President Barack Obama in Israel during his visit to
a session hosted by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. ReWalk inventor
Dr. Amit Goffer, an alumni of the Technion, is a quadriplegic who was inspired
to invent the exoskeleton device because of his own personal story and
experience.

“It
is an honor to have been chosen among many Israeli innovators to present the
ReWalk technology to President Obama,” said Dr. Goffer. “This device is already
improving the quality of life for many people and we look forward to seeing its
continued expansion around the world including in the US where we are awaiting
FDA clearance for daily personal use.”



The
technology was demonstrated by Israeli Army Veteran Radi Kaiuf and US Army
Veteran Theresa Hannigan, paraplegics who can now stand and walk independently
with the ReWalk. Sgt. Hannigan served during the Vietnam era and was left
paralyzed two years ago as a result of a progressive autoimmune disease.

“I’m
so pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate for President Obama this
amazing technology that will benefit the lives of many men and women who have
been impacted by spinal cord injuries,” said Sgt. Hannigan, who trains with the
ReWalk at the Spinal Cord Damage Research Center at the James J. Peters VA
Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. “A couple of years ago, doctors told me
I would never walk again, but now thanks to this technology I am able to do
anything from standing-up and hugging my family to walking a one-mile road
race.”

Yuichi
Imahata’s 9-year-old daughter is thrilled her dad stands tall above her head.
It’s an experience that is new to her. Imahata, 31, has been using a wheelchair
to get around for seven years after a serious spinal-cord injury suffered in an
accidental fall while working for a transport company. He completely lost
sensation in both legs and was told he would never walk again.

A
robotic exoskeleton called ‘ReWalk’ at Kanagawa
Rehabilitation Center in Atgugi (Credit: AP)

Japanese
robotics maker Yaskawa Electric Corp. has been distributing ReWalk in Asia
under a deal signed last year with ReWalk Robotics, based in Yokneam, Israel. The
effort is going far more smoothly in places such as China than in Japan, said
Yaskawa spokesman Ayumi Hayashida. Hayashida believes ReWalk is being met by
bureaucratic stonewalling that is typical of the frustrations Japanese
businesses face in doing something new.

Yaskawa
is hoping to fine-tune the $71,600 ReWalk to make it lighter and smaller and
hopefully cheaper. It currently requires upper body strength and is not the
best design for the elderly. It also requires 40 hours of training. Yet even in
its current form, the device spells freedom for wheelchair users, who can feel
confined to a low eye-level. “I’ve seen Americans using ReWalk on YouTube. They
can reach things on shelves,” said Imahata.

He
dreams of wearing ReWalk to his daughter’s school for the annual athletics
event, standing in a crowd of parents, peering with anticipation over shoulders
and heads, and catching a glimpse of his girl in action.

Explore
further in www.rewalk.com

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