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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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way to go Israeli
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/26/2008 1:55:17 PM , Rating: 3
Helpful devices such as this I think show the true underlining beliefs and values of the country and people of the nation that it comes out of - that is not every nation will give the needed support to individuals to create devices like this. This I believe will be just the start of something very good for handicapped individuals.

I read the article quickly but a couple things come to mind. A) with this a individual can now use a bathroom on their own. I know this sounds simple, but many need the help of others to get on the toilet. What a great piece of dignity this will give or give back to handicapped people. B) can it handle being under water or lots of water being poured over it – this would allow the individual to bath or shower without the aid of others.

RE: way to go Israeli
By Ringold on 8/26/2008 2:48:07 PM , Rating: 4
I'm always impressed with what comes out of Irsael. For a population so tiny and an economy so relatively small, it seems like they punch way above their weight. I hear far more interesting things come out of Israel, in all sorts of different industries, than say France, which is larger both in population and economy (10 times larger). Like you said, I think it comes down to cultural and economic policy differences.

Oh, and they manage to do all that while eating the occasional rockets raining down on towns. We know what the French do when rockets start flying...

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