Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bionic Suit Helps Paralyzed Patients Walk Again

This is another article from ABC News concerning the Ekso Bionic Suit.  I have written about the Ekso before (April 22 and September 12).  The reason I continue to write about these new technologies in personal mobility is the advancements that are being made at a significant rate.  None of these robotic/bionic assists are perfect yet, but they are getting closer and prices will come down until these assists become affordable.

One of the key features that I have not seen before is that the weight of the actual Bionic Suit is transferred to the ground so the user doesn’t have to carry the additional weight.

Yes, we aren’t there yet, but we are getting a lot closer.  Something like this will make living with Kennedy's Disease a little easier until there is a treatment or cure.



Patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries are taking their precious first steps at a Southern California hospital with the help of a battery-powered bionic suit that was first designed to help soldiers carry heavy loads.
“Mentally it’s a wonderful feeling to be upright and moving,” said Aaron Bloom, who was paralyzed two years ago in an accident.
The 27-year-old was told he would never walk again, but with each step in the Ekso Bionic Suit  at Huntington Memorial Hospital, he’s defying the odds.
“Right now, I don’t really need anybody holding me. I can lift my hands up and put a little weight on these crutches and feel pretty comfortable,” he said.
The suit, which costs $150,000, is strapped on over a person’s clothes. Foot plate sensors help locate the center of gravity so the person wearing the suit can maintain their balance as they take each step. A computer is worn on the back to help drive the hip and knee motors.
The entire suit weighs 45 pounds, but the load is transferred to the ground so the patient does not bear the weight, according to Ekso Bionics, the company behind the breakthrough technology.
It took Bloom weeks of practice to feel comfortable using the suit. He knows it’s not a perfect solution, but for now, it is hope.
“I have no doubt in my lifetime that there will be some sort of solution for spinal cord injuries,” he said. “I firmly believe that I will be able to walk in the future. It’s just a matter of time.”

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