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60-Second Health

Robotic Exoskeleton Gets First-Ever FDA Approval

The ReWalk exoskeleton allows some people paralyzed from the waist down to walk again, with the aid of crutches. Dina Fine Maron reports

 

It’s all in the wrist. That’s the location of the wireless remote control for the first wearable exoskeleton to be approved by the FDA for home use. It’s called ReWalk.
 
Some people paralyzed from the waist down can use the robotic apparatus to walk again, with the aid of crutches.
 
Produced by Argo Medical Technologies, ReWalk consists of leg braces, motorized joints and motion sensors that correct for changes in balance and movement. A harness keeps the suit in place on the user, who wears a backpack holding the rechargeable battery power supply and controlling computer.
 
ReWalk was created by Argo’s founder, Amit Goffer, himself quadriplegic as the result of a 1997 ATV accident. Goffer holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering.
 
The device is for people who can already stand with the assistance of crutches or a walker. It weighs about 46 pounds. But Argo says that a user only feels the weight of the roughly five-pound backpack.
 
The green light from the FDA is a big step forward for the entire exoskeleton industry. The price for a unit is $69,500. But the value of such devices may be beyond evaluation.
 
—Dina Fine Maron
 
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
 

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