The robotic exoskeleton eLegs could be a game changer for spinal cord injury rehabilitation
Stephanie Sablan was driving home from her grandmother’s house late at night last January, down the scenic Route 101 in Northern California. Sablan picked up her phone and typed a text message to her boyfriend to say she’d be there in half an hour. Before she hit send, she looked up and was surprised by a curve in the road. She swung the steering wheel to avoid the central reservation, but went too far, and the car flipped over – once, twice, three times, four times.
As the car tumbled, Sablan was thrown out of the passenger-side window – “I wasn’t wearing my seat belt,” she says – and landed in the grass beside the highway. “I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move my legs.”
An Air Force pilot who has been paralysed from the chest down since 2002 has been able to walk with the help of a special suit.
Lt. Ian James Brown, from New Jersey, is the first military man to test the specially-fitted exoskeleton suit called the ReWalk.
He said: ‘The first time I saw myself walk on video, I said, “Wow”.’
Mr Brown became a paraplegic after a motorcycle accident in 2002 as he was driving back to Hanscom Air Force base in Bedford, Massachusetts.
Investigational Studies and Introduction of New Wearable Robot for Wheelchair Users
BERKELEY, CA, June 7, 2011 — Berkeley Bionics – developer and maker of exoskeletons that augment human strength, endurance and mobility – today announced its partnership with ten of the nation’s top physical rehabilitation centers. The program will focus on eLEGS, a wearable robot that powers wheelchair users up to get them standing and walking. It will entail reciprocal information sharing and learning, and the definition of clinical protocols, as the company prepares to introduce eLEGS to the market in early 2012. The charter hospitals will also become the first eLEGS Centers in the world, conducting ongoing research, and offering the device for the rehabilitation of their patients.