Exoskeletons are often portrayed in the media as tools for fighting crime or weaponizing the human body for military use, but this company uses them for rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries. Meet ReWalk.
Founded in 2001 by Dr. Amit Goffer, ReWalk Robotics is an international company with a very personal story. Dr. Goffer is quadriplegic and was inspired by his own experiences to develop an exoskeleton that would help others like himself be able to confidently reincorporate walking into their everyday lives. ReWalk is the first and currently the only exoskeleton to be cleared for production by the FDA, and it is the first device that presents a truly viable option for individuals with lower body disabilities and spinal cord injuries to walk again.
The ReWalk exoskeleton has motorized legs that power the user’s hip and knee movement. Movement is controlled by an on-board computer that responds to the user’s changes in center of gravity – a slight tilt forward triggers the first step. Since it doesn’t rely on switches to trigger movement, ReWalk restores self-initiated walking and provides a more natural experience than other medical rehabilitation devices that deal with this type of disability. Its advanced software mimics the natural gait of an able-bodied person and enables sitting, standing, turning, and even climbing and descending stairs. The device is battery powered with a full-day battery life and is designed to charge overnight.
ReWalk presents the first step in regular personal use of exoskeletons for rehabilitation outside of the classic rehabilitation setting. This is a big step not only in healthcare but in robotics, and reflects just how intertwined the two fields can be, and how big an impact that can have to the individual.