It is being reported that wearable robots might be one step nearer to taking the place of wheelchairs. The ReWalk exoskeleton, which is a wearable robot that has been designed to aid paraplegics in walking, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in homes. The device had only before been available to individuals in rehabilitation centers along with the Ekso, which is the ReWalks competition.
Larry Jasinski, who is the CEO of ReWalk Robotics, explained that wearable robots are revolutionary products He stated that they will have a sudden life-changing impact on people who have spinal cord injuries and that it was truly a start of “ReWalking” as a daily reality in the United States.
The robot uses a computer controlled system, motorized sensors and brace supports which actually mimic walking by reacting to side-to-side movements in the user’s weight. The device would cost nearly $70,000 and it is not yet apparent how much the insurance companies would be responsible for. However numerous experts state that paraplegics might ought to keep hold of their wheelchairs for the moment. Even though wearable robots like ReWalk and Ekso are able to aid in helping individuals move forward, they are definitely not perfect
Allan Kozlowski, who is the lead researcher on the exoskeleton assisted walking program in New York City, explained that the wearable robots are right now at a point where the study group would not feel comfortable in declaring that people who were absolutely independent in any environment may want to begin using them. This is because for one reason, the exoskeleton’s batteries last only between two and four hours at the present time. Users also cannot walk very quickly either. The longest that people have ever reportedly walked with the devices was one mile. The various walks all took at least 50 minutes and the majority were usually a lot longer than that.
Kozlowski added that even so, people who used the wearable robots did receive numerous health benefits such as better oxygen intake, increased circulation, better relief of pain and had better functioning of bowels. People also benefited from the action of simply being able to stand upright and look other individuals eye to eye. That gave them better mental and psychological benefits as well.
If nothing else, individuals could use the devices in order to take short walks but they would have to careful. There might be some terrain which could be challenging, stated Kozlowski. However the ReWalk is able to move both up and down stairs, but it does take quite a bit of practice for the user, who must take the steps one stair at a time. The person should also hold to the hand rail as he or she moves. Kozlowski admitted the device was not something pretty but that it worked and that was what mattered.
The ReWalk has been approved for use in the home but the Ekso is still only for use in rehabilitation centers. There is another wearable robot, known as the Indego, which is in line to be approved by the FDA to be used in both rehab and also homes. It may be soon that wearable robots actually take the place of wheelchairs but only time will tell.
By Kimberly Ruble