Huntington Memorial Hospital in Southern California, US, has become the first in the region to install Ekso technology that enables people with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness to stand and walk.
Ekso Bionics’ exoskeleton devise, powered by two high-capacity lithium batteries to drive the hip and knee motors of the patient, should be strapped over the user’s clothing.
Once the patient provides the balance and proper body positioning, Ekso enables the patient to walk while a physical therapist uses the control pad to programme the desired walking parametres.
Huntington Memorial Hospital outpatient rehabilitation centre medical director Sunil Hegde said together the medical centre is helping people rethink current physical limitations.
"With the aid of the Ekso remote control, one of our physical therapists helps teach the patient when to take a step, how to position their body for proper balance and how to shift their weight in preparation to take another step," Dr. Hedge added.
"The physical therapist also has the ability to modify the walking pattern – step speed and length – as the patient progresses. While this technology is currently used only in rehabilitation centres, we join with Ekso in looking forward to the day when people will be able to utilise this technology on the sidewalks or in shopping malls."
Ekso claims that torso and leg straps were designed to enable the patient to easily get in and out of the device with no or minimal assistance, and the device can be adjusted to fit most people who weigh 220 pounds or less.
Image: The Ekso exoskeleton device will allow people with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness to stand and walk at the Huntington Memorial Hospital. Photo courtesy of Ekso Bionics.