27 Aug 2014 9:48

Could exoskeletons help disabled people to be more active?

New advances in ‘Iron Man’-style suits could one day transform the lives of wheelchair users. And that might only be the start…

On a weekday morning in June, 50 people gather at the launch of a new technology shop in a science park outside Cambridge. Dubbed a “store opening” by its hosts, the US firm Ekso, it is quite unlike most retail events. There are no shelves, tills, or counters; no free samples or catalogues.

Instead, Ekso suggests that guests – about a quarter of whom are in wheelchairs – might try out one of its devices, in conjunction with the private physiotherapy firm, Prime Physio. Then, in months or years to come, the wealthier among them could walk away with some of Ekso’s kit.

“Technology is reaching the point where those who have been disabled can be re-enabled,” says Andy Hayes, Ekso’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in his address. A slide of the bionic superhero Iron Man pops up on an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

Ekso Bionics has produced one of the first ready-to-wear, motorised exoskeletons to be made commercially available in Britain. Called the Ekso, this battery-powered robot suit enables paraplegics to stand and walk.

Full article here

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/aug/12/exoskeletons-help-disabled-people