Thanks to Ekso Bionics, paralyzed patients can now experience what it is like to walk again thanks to a bionic suit.
This is definitely a break through since patients who have been paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries are finally able to take their precious first steps at a Southern California hospital with the help of a battery-powered bionic suit that was initially first designed to help soldiers carry heavy loads.
“Mentally it’s a wonderful feeling to be upright and moving,” said Aaron Bloom, who was paralyzed two years ago in an accident.
“Right now, I don’t really need anybody holding me. I can lift my hands up and put a little weight on these crutches and feel pretty comfortable,” he said.
The suit does have a high price tag since it costs US$150,000 and was made to go over a person’s clothes. Foot plate sensors help locate the center of gravity so the person wearing the suit can keep their balance as they walk. The patient wears a computer on his or her back to help drive the hip and knee motors.
“I have no doubt in my lifetime that there will be some sort of solution for spinal cord injuries,” he said. “I firmly believe that I will be able to walk in the future. It’s just a matter of time.”
The bionic suit weighs 45 pounds, but the weight is not carried by the patient since the weight is transferred to the ground, according to Ekso Bionics, the company who created the suit. In order to feel comfortable with the suits, weeks had to pass by for Bloom and he knows it’s not a perfect solution, but for now, it is hope. Hopefully the price for the suit will come down since everyone should have the opportunity to use this suit and there should also be very easy payments plans so the suits can reach even more people.