Paraplegics can Walk Using Robot Legs

by Rajashri on Aug 28 2008 4:57 PM

A device that can restore movement to paralysed people has been developed by an Indian-origin engineer in Israel.

Amit Goffer, founder of Argo Medical Technologies, has revealed that his device ReWalk is currently being tested in Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Centre.

The device is also scheduled for clinical trials at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute in Pennsylvania, he says.

Radi Kaiof, a former Israeli paratrooper who has been paralysed for the past 20 years, now walks down the street with the aid of ReWalk.

"I never dreamed I would walk again. After I was wounded, I forgot what it's like," New Scientist magazine quoted Kaiof, who was injured while serving in the Israeli military in 1988, as saying.

"Only when standing up can I feel how tall I really am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below," he added.

ReWalk consists of motorised leg supports, body sensors and a backpack that contains a computer and rechargeable batteries.

Those using the device will need crutches to help with balance.

To move, the user picks a setting with a remote control wrist band - "stand", "sit", "walk", "descend" or "climb" - and then leans forward, activating the body sensors, and setting the robotic legs in motion.

Insisting that ReWalk had the potential to improve a user's health in two ways, Kate Parkin, director of physical and occupational therapy at New York University's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, said: "Physically, the body works differently when upright. You can challenge different muscles and allow full expansion of the lungs. Psychologically, it lets people live at the upright level and make eye contact."

Argo Medical Technologies has revealed that ReWalk, slated for commercial sale in 2010, will be worth 20,000 dollars.