Monday, 8 November 2010

Exoskeletons

OK, probably you think exoskeletons are just for insects and lobsters. Are you aware that they are also for people these days? I've been exploring a new blog (of which more details next week, so you'll have to endure the suspense until then!) which has highlighted these exoskeletons, and provided a link to the website:

http://www.exoskeleton-suit.com/

Basically, the exoskeleton is an incredibly sophisticated piece of technology consisting of parts that you strap to your body, with a power supply you carry with you, and computerised controls. This amazing breakthrough is allowing paraplegics to walk again for the very first time. This has to be one of the major medical advances of the modern age. For a person suffering a SCI (spinal cord injury), this event is the most devastating thing that can happen to them - in an instant their life is totally changed when they are told their injury is permanent and they will never, never walk again. Quite apart from the total readjustment of one's life as a wheelchair user, with all the problems of accessibility, getting around, maybe changing one's job, and enduring on a daily basis the negative attitudes of able bodied people to wheelchair users, there are numerous health problems associated with these injuries, such as pressure sores which are potentially life-threatening, brittle bones, muscle atrophy, etc. etc.

With an exoskeleton, the individual can stand upright unaided, and walk with a remarkably normal-looking gait. At present they have to use crutches with the device, but this opens up the world in a way that the wheelchair never can. Just to be able to stand and look people in the eye, at their level, is a bonus in itself.

It may sound like science fiction, but several companies are already producing prototypes, and it will not be long before these hit the market. They are, of course, incredibly expensive at this stage, and until they are in full production, they will be out of the reach of most people, but the price will come down eventually, and even if they still remain the most expensive option, they will be available.

Here is a video of just one of them:

 
 
Amazing, don't you think? Check out the website for full details and videos of the others featured there.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! They are much appreciated. Spammers, please be aware that I read and moderate ALL comments, and yours will be deleted before publication, so please don't bother!