Tuesday, 28 September, 2021
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Exoskeletons to help disabled people to walk

Companies around the world are designing and manufacturing exoskeletons, competing to make them as light and usable as possible, reports Yiming Woo for Reuters. Some – such as Wandercraft in France – are designing exoskeletons that support disabled people to walk.

“Robot, stand up.” Oscar Constanza (16) gives the order and slowly but surely a large frame strapped to his body lifts him up and he starts walking.

Fastened to his shoulders, chest, waist, knees and feet, the exoskeleton allows Oscar – who has a genetic neurological condition that means his nerves do not send enough signals to his legs – to walk across the room and turn around.

“Before, I needed someone to help me walk…this makes me feel independent,” said Oscar, as his father Jean-Louis Constanza, one of the co-founders of the company that makes the exoskeleton, looks on,” Reuters reports.

“One day Oscar said to me: ‘dad, you’re a robotic engineer, why don’t you make a robot that would allow us to walk?’” his father recalls, speaking at the company Wandercraft’s headquarters in Paris.

“Ten years from now, there will be no, or far fewer, wheelchairs,” he said.

Other companies across the world are also manufacturing exoskeletons, competing to make them as light and usable as possible. Some are focused on helping disabled people walk, others on a series of applications, including making standing less tiring for factory workers.

Reuters continues: Wandercraft’s exoskeleton, an outer frame that supports but also simulates body movement, has been sold to dozens of hospitals in France, Luxembourg and the United States, for about €150,000 euros (US$176,000) a piece, Constanza said.

It cannot yet be bought by private individuals for everyday use – that is the next stage the company is working on. A personal skeleton would need to be much lighter, Wandercraft engineers said.

 

Reuters story – Father builds exoskeleton to help wheelchair-bound son walk (Open access)

 

Wandercraft website

 

See also from the MedicalBrief archives

 

Ankle exoskeleton enables significantly faster walking

 

AI-driven exoskeleton lets quadriplegic man walk again

 

Unpowered exoskeleton puts extra spring in the step

 

 

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