from the May 2011 issue

The amazing robo-legs that let paraplegics walk again

Disabled Israeli soldier Radi Kaiof shows off the revolutionary ReWalk system that will allow paraplegics to be able to stand up and walk again Disabled Israeli soldier Radi Kaiof shows off the revolutionary ReWalk system that will allow paraplegics to be able to stand up and walk again

It is a revolutionary system that will allow paraplegics to stand up.

And, claim its makers, it will also give people who thought they may never walk again the chance to experience their first steps again.

Named ReWalk, the pioneering robo-legs device was given its UK unveiling at a science fair at Birmingham's NEC yesterday and it is hoped it will help injured soldiers to live easier lives at home.

The system works by the user wearing an exoskeleton, which uses computerized motors to help keep them upright and allowing them to complete tasks such as climbing stairs without the need for help from others.

It was developed by Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies Ltd who are specialists in the field.

The technology has already been put into use in a specialist spinal injuries unit in Italy and a consumer version should be on the way later in the year.

It is said to be 'totally interactive' and allows the user complete freedom to move.

Currently potential users have to be medically assessed and undergo lengthy training before being allowed to use the system.

However the company say a future consumer version will be easier to use around the home.

Sales of the system in the UK will be handled by Cyclone Technologies and it will be available for 50,000 to personal users by the start of 2012.

Cylone's managing director, Dave Hawkins, who himself is disabled said: 'For a paraplegic like myself it means everything.

'It means I can look my kids in the eye. it means I can give my girlfriend a cuddle. It means you can do normal things like going to a gig and stand up to watch.

'We are marketing it towards the military. It would be fantastic for people returning injured from Afghanistan to find they're not stuck as a paraplegic in a wheel chair.

'With a sporty look, the personal model will be intended for daily use and as well as offering people like me the 'miracle of walking, it has the added benefit of reducing stigma that can be associated with wheelchair use.'

Mr Kaiof transfers himself from his wheelchair into the ReWalk system. He said the technology has 'changed his life'

One person who is already benefiting from the technology is Radi Kaiof, an Israeli who lost the use of his legs while serving in the country's army.

He said: 'For me it is amazing, the freedom, to be told I can walk after I thought I could never walk again is brilliant.

'I have been using it for two years now, it has changed my life, I can live normally again.

To make the system work Mr Kaiof uses a wrist watch to select what to do, such as stand, sit, walk and ascend. He then uses his body movement to control.

After choosing to walk all he needs to do is lean forward and off he goes. Stopping is a simple matter of stopping leaning forward.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report May 2011

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