And you thought it was only invertebrates such as insects, spiders and shrimps that had exoskeletons. In case you hadn’t heard of the company, Ekso Bionics, formerly known as Berkeley Bionics is a designer and creator of bionic suits, or (sort of) exoskeletons – that physically augment humans, enabling for example wheelchair users to stand and walk. The company has now announced that it has gained CE Mark certification for what are classified as medical devices.
Ekso is best described as a wearable robot that fulfilled the FDA requirements earlier this year, enabling the company to partner with and sell Ekso to top rehabilitation centers in the United States, including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Kessler Foundation, TIRR Memorial Hermann, Craig Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, among many others.
In a press release Ekso Bionics describes its product as a ready-to-wear, battery-powered bionic suit designed for users with spinal cord injuries, lower-limb weakness/paralysis and pathologies that inhibit their ability to walk. It is strapped over the user’s clothing. The user doesn’t bear the weight however, as the suit transfers its 45 lb. (20 kg) load directly to the ground. Each Ekso can be adjusted in a few minutes to fit most people weighing 220 pounds (100 kg) or less, and standing between 5’2” and 6’2” (157cm to 188cm), with at least partial upper body strength, and can be adjusted to fit one user and then another in minutes. The suit provides unprecedented knee flexion, which translates into a natural four point gait, thereby allowing Ekso to be used as a gait training tool.
“Today, we have taken a big step towards making the Ekso walking experience available to anyone, anywhere,” stated Eythor Bender, CEO of Ekso Bionics. “For all of us, walking is a basic need and it shows in the strong demand for Ekso in the U.S. where it has been available for 3 months. We’ve successfully delivered close to ten suits and are taking multiple and repeat orders from preeminent rehabilitation centers,” he explained. “Bionic suits are brand new and a game-changing technology, so we decided early on this journey to focus on the relatively small but challenging Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) population. Their injuries generally occur when they are young, so they were the ideal group to collaborate with in testing and improving Ekso, prior to our product launch. We also chose to initiate our delivery service via rehabilitation centers, rather than offering it first directly to consumers, because it will ensure the product’s safety as well as genuinely useful improvements. We are on track to release a personal version within 24 months,” he added.
“We’re buoyed by the warm reception we are experiencing in Europe. Our rollout here is happening much faster than we had expected,” said Andy Hayes, director of Ekso Bionics, Europe. “We are already shipping Eksos and starting customer training next week,” he commented.
Source: Ekso Bionics