Researchers at the Argo Medical Technologies in Haifa, Israel have developed a new robotic device that could soon help partially paralyzed patients walk again.
ReWalk, a cutting-edge robotic device lets a paraplegics to stand, walk and even climb stairs is being tested at a Philadelphia rehab hospital.
It consists of a backpack, an upper body harness and leg supports that are fitted with motorized knees and hips.
The wearer, who must have the use of his upper body, controls the movement of the leg supports with crutches, while motion sensors that are connected to a backpack computer let the device know when a step should be taken.
Researchers hope that it the device will be available in markets by the end of this year.
"ReWalk should become available in the near future and will be able to be applied widely to people with spinal cord injuries that have preserved the use of the arms," the New York Daily News quoted Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, chair of MossRehab's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, who was instrumental in ReWalk's development, as saying.
"You need to have your arms, both for balance control and sensory feedback.
"The tip of the crutches provides sensory feedback about where your body is in space," Esquenazi added.
ReWalk consists of "smart software" that understands what the patient is intending to do, and translates that into taking a step or climbing a stair."
Esquenazi said that so far they have had no problems.
"The system has worked appropriately and patients have been thrilled at being able to use the device. Many years after the injury, they had forgotten how to stand and take steps," he said.
The device is worn over clothing and its battery lasts for three hours and the backup lasts for another 20 minutes.
"The system alerts you that the battery is running low. It tells you that you either need to get to a chair or to a plug," Esquenazi added.