ReWalk's rehab exoskeleton now approved for home use

The ReWalk exoskeleton has been helping paraplegics walk in US rehab centers for years, but now that it got certified by the FDA, almost anyone who can afford it can finally get one. Unlike the one-size-fits-all version for rehab facilities, the personal system that got the agency's approval is customized for each user and is designed for use in various indoor and outdoor environments. Still, the two share the same design: they both have metal braces that support the body, motors that provide movement and a backpack that supplies energy. They also have a wrist remote control, where users can issue the sit, stand or walk commands. So, what did ReWalk have to go through in order to get the agency's sweet A-OK, anyway?

Well, the exoskeleton was subjected to a clinical trial involving 30 participants, which tested its ability to walk on various surfaces and determined the time it'll take a user to traverse certain distances. These tests helped the FDA figure out who can buy and use a ReWalk, because it won't be easy maneuvering a seven-pound exoskeleton. Apparently, you can't get the machine unless you can already stand with assistance and use crutches. Also, you can't have other neurological injuries (other than the ones on your spinal cord), unhealed fractures, infection, circulatory conditions and heart and lung diseases, among others. ReWalk hasn't revealed its pricing for the US yet, but in Europe, one unit costs a whopping €52,500 ($72,000).

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