U.S. Approves First Robotic Legs that Enable Paraplegics to Walk

Published Date : Jun 30, 2014

In a first, regulators in the United States have approved the marketing of a motorized robotic leg that can help paraplegics walk. The device – as exoskeleton – is being called ReWalk, and has now been approved for use by people who have suffered a spinal cord injury that has left their lower body paralyzed.

The US food and Drug Administration has said that the robo ic leg comprises a metal brace that is fitted to the user’s specifications, a compact backpack-like device that carries the power supply and computer, and motors located at the ankles, knees, and hips. The motorized device has been developed by Argo Medical Technologies Inc. The weight of this device is approximately 46 pounds, but users will feel only 5 pounds of the weight (that of the backpack), said Argo. This personal system that is developed by the Marlborough, Massachusetts-based company carries a price tag of USD 69,500. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 200,000 people in the United States currently live with a spinal injury. 

This is the first time that people affected by paraplegia will be able to walk by utilizing this device in their daily lives. According Argo’s CEO Larry Jasinski, this device will greatly help reduce the psychological and physiological impact that paraplegia exerts on those suffering from it. 

According to the FDA, patients can also use crutches with this robotic leg for added stability. A wrist-mounted remote control commands the device to sit, stand, or walk. This device is tailored to the body shape and dimensions of each patient. It also requires that caregivers of paraplegics using this device undergo training on how to use this product.