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Former Israeli Paratrooper Radi Kaiof uses the suit to climb stairs  (Source: Reuters)
Clinical trials underway; suit expected to go on sale soon

A new powered exoskeleton is enabled the disabled to walk again. Created by a small Israeli startup, the Iron Man-like "ReWalk" suit is already making converts among those who have worn it. Former Israeli paratrooper Radi Kaiof, paralyzed in 1988, wears the suit walking around the streets of Haifa.  "I never dreamed I would walk again", he says.

"Only when standing up can I feel how tall I really am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below".

The suit consists of motorized leg supports, a body sensors package, and a battery backpack. It operates via a remote control wristband, which contains various settings: sit, stand, walk, or climb. Once the user selects the appropriate action, they lean forward to activate the body sensors. In the current version crutches must be used to assist with balance; a more advanced model is eventually expected to dispense with this requirement.

Clinical trials are now underway in Israel's Sheba Medica Center.

The suit was invented by Israeli engineer Amit Goffer, who ironically was himself paralyzed in an accident in 1997. "It raises people out of their wheelchair and lets them stand up straight," explains Goffer, "It's not just about health, it's also about dignity." Goffer founded Argo Medical Technologies to develop and market the suit.

Argo's Chief Operating Officer Oren Tamari says that, while other agencies such as the US military are also developing powered exoskeletons, none besides the ReWalk will be operable by disabled people.

The suit is expected to go on sale for around $20,000, about the price of the most sophisticated wheelchairs now available.

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RE: Seems like a great device
By acejj26 on 8/26/2008 1:21:40 PM , Rating: 3
maybe this is where Dean Kamen can use his expertise gained with the Segway to help out. such an addition to this skeleton would further mankind more than he hoped his Segway would.

RE: Seems like a great device
By 4play on 8/26/2008 1:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
You beat me to it, this plus segways could be the next big revolution in mobility for disabled.

RE: Seems like a great device
By murphyslabrat on 8/26/2008 1:37:12 PM , Rating: 3
Either that, or alcoholism becomes his segway into disability. *_^

RE: Seems like a great device
By Suntan on 8/26/2008 3:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
I believe I read originally that the segway design was intended to be used for a 4 wheeled wheelchair that could articulate up on 2 wheels so a handicapped person could move along at eye level with other adults when the terrain wasn’t too rough. Also, so that it could travel up stairs.

Basically, he couldn’t get the corporations that subsidize wheelchair purchases (Easter Seals, etc. ??) to add it to their list of acceptable chairs, or insurance companies to accept it so he didn’t think it would pan out. He did the Segway to make some money off of the tech while trying to get the tech going for the wheelchair market.

I could be wrong, but I remember reading or hearing that somewhere.


RE: Seems like a great device
By Aeonic on 8/27/2008 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
That's the wheelchair. It's pretty cool, I thought it was more innovative than the Segway.

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