Exoskeleton Helps Paralyzed Walk

February 2, 2016 | 11:36
Phoenix exoskeleton
Phoenix exoskeleton
obotics company Suitx launched the Phoenix: a medical exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to walk. The Phoenix not only offers paraplegics freedom of movement but also helps prevent pressure sores that can form when sitting in the same position for too long.  

The Phoenix exoskeleton costs an estimated $40,000 and weighs a little over 12 kilo's (27 pounds). The user can attain a maximum speed of 1.7 km/h (1.1 mph). The battery pack is worn in a backpack and powers up to 4 hours of walking or 8 hours of intermittent use. An Android app allows for customization of functionalities such as gait parameters.

Based in California, Suitx specializes in medical and industrial exoskeletons. The technology was developed in the Robotics & Human Engineering Laboratory of Berkeley University. Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni a professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Lab founded the company with several graduate students in 2013.

One of the goals of the company is to develop medical exoskeletons for children affected by neurological conditions like Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida which make walking difficult or impossible. The robotic aid could help them develop their walking skills during the narrow timeframe when children more easily acquire locomotion skills.

Currently the company is competing in the Robotics for Good competition with an exoskeleton for children based on the Phoenix platform. The winner will be announced February 5th.

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