Paraplegics One Step Closer to Walking Again

FDA OKs ReWalk, which allows users to walk on their own

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 27, 2014 2:24 AM CDT | Updated Jun 27, 2014 4:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Walking paraplegics could soon be a common sight in American cities: The FDA has given the green light to the ReWalk system, a robotic exoskeleton that allows paralyzed people to stand up and walk on their own, reports the Los Angeles Times. The device—created by an Israeli inventor paralyzed in an ATV accident—is already used to help wounded US military personnel walk, but the FDA decision allows ReWalk to be bought by anybody and used outside a rehab setting. The system attaches a motorized brace controlled by computer and motion sensors to users, who carry crutches for extra stability, CNET explains.

The system is already widely used in Europe, and a British woman completed the 2012 London Marathon in a ReWalk exoskeleton. Beyond mobility, the system also helps users regain stamina and muscle strength. "It will be incredible for me to regain independence, to use the system to walk and stand on my own," a Marine captain who will be getting one tells NBC. "I see this as a milestone for people in my same situation who will now have access to this technology—to experience walking again, and all of the health benefits that come with ReWalking."

Radi Kaiuf, wounded and left paralyzed during his military service, gets up while strapped to a ReWalk device.
Radi Kaiuf, wounded and left paralyzed during his military service, gets up while strapped to a ReWalk device.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Claire Lomas, 32, who is paralyzed from the chest down,  reacts after completing the London Marathon.
Claire Lomas, 32, who is paralyzed from the chest down, reacts after completing the London Marathon.   (AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The system allows users to stand, walk, and turn.
The system allows users to stand, walk, and turn.   (Graphic: Business Wire)
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A paralyzed woman walks with ReWalk.   (YouTube)

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