Exoskeletons–wearable, motorized machines that can assist a person’s movements–have largely been confined to movies or military use, but recent advances might soon bring the devices to the homes of people with paralysis.
Assisted Steps: A patient with paralysis stands with the aid of the Berkeley exoskeleton. The exoskeleton moves the patient’s hips and knees to imitate a natural walk.
So far, exoskeletons have been used to augment the strength of soldiers or to help hospitalized stroke patients relearn how to walk. Now researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have demonstrated an exoskeleton that is portable and lets paraplegics walk in a relatively natural gait with minimal training. That could be an improvement for people with spinal-cord injuries who spend a lot of time in wheelchairs, which can cause sores or bone deterioration.
Existing medical exoskeletons for patients who have lost function in their lower extremities have either not been equipped with power sources or have been designed for tethered use in rehabilitation facilities, to correct and condition a patient’s gait.
Read more here Technology Review: Personal Exoskeletons for Paraplegics.