Bionic Exoskeleton Aims to Restore Mobility in Paralyzed Population

Built on the backbone of the Human Universal Load Carrier, or HULC exoskeleton, created for military application, Berkeley Bionics today unveils their latest technological endeavor – the eLEGS. This device promises to restore mobility to the paralyzed, wheelchair-bound population.

In addition to this recent development, Berkeley Bionics also announced Eythor Bender as the new chief executive officer of the company. Former chief executive officer and co-founder of the company, Homayoon Kazerooni, PhD will take on the position of chairman of the board and chief scientist.

“It’s about time we give the same technology to paralyzed people that we have had for amputees for years,” Bender told O&P Business News. “Berkeley Bionics had already developed the military application but their intention was always to do a medical application and the military was a big stepping stone in that direction.”

So far, the device has been used by more than 10 people and the feedback, according to Bender, has been favorable.

“They were all walking with crutches after 2 hours,” he said. “We are not looking at launching eLEGS until the middle of 2011 and until then it will go through rigorous testing.”

In addition to the benefits of mobility restoration, Bender also spoke about the other physical benefits of being able to walk. The users who have had as many as 30 hours in the eLEGS have started to experience some physical changes.

“They feel that their muscle tone has improved, their circulation has improved. They sleep better,” Bender said. “There are so many healing comments like that that we obviously can not prove at this time, but down the road we will have studies that will prove the health benefits.”

Spinal cord injured patients will be the first to get a chance to use the device following the launch next year. It is the intention to release more devices over time and eventually these would be used in the home for everyday use.

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