Harvard technology will restore stroke victims' ability to walk
Specially designed exoskeleton suit should be available soon.
Stroke victims suffering from impaired motor skills have a reason to be upbeat about their recovery thanks to Harvard University and an Israeli robotics company.
ReWalk Restore, the product of a collaboration between Harvard University's Wyss Institute and ReWalk Robotics Ltd., is a wearable technology that is intended to help stroke victims regain mobility.
The two had been working on the "soft suit" — so-called because the cables are connected to fabric-based designs that attach to the legs and foot— for several months, but only recently revealed a prototype.
Restore works by transmitting power to key joints of the legs via a waist belt fitted with a motor and battery, flexible cables that transmit power from the motor to the ankles and leg braces and shoe sensors.
It functions much like ReWalk's flagship product, an exoskeleton suit called ReWalk Personal. That suit assists paraplegics in walking again, and earned ReWalk the honor of being the first company to receive FDA approval to provide robotic exoskeleton suits for personal use.
ReWalk Personal users Andre and Ursel in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: ReWalk)
“As we looked at exoskeletons from our experience with spinal cord injury, there were many things that apply for someone who may have had a stroke, but their needs are different,” ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski told Yahoo Finance. “This device helps someone who’s having trouble lifting their foot, trouble walking.”
ReWalk Restore is geared towards a broader demographic than ReWalk Personal, and is expected to be less expensive than the original.
The company – which has offices in the U.S., Germany and northern Israel – has turned its focus towards clinical studies and regulatory approval. They are confident that the Restore product will be commercially available by next year.
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