Ekso Bionics delivered the first commercial unit of its Ekso exoskeleton to Craig Hospital in Denver. Ekso is a wearable robot that powers paraplegics up, enabling them to stand and walk. In addition — working together with top rehabilitation centers in the U.S. — Ekso Bionics just completed a ten-month Investigational Study of Ekso that entailed reciprocal information sharing and learning, training, as well as the definition of clinical protocols. Delivery of Eksos — beginning with Ekso Bionics’ Charter Rehabilitation Centers — will take place over the course of the next three months.
Ekso is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered exoskeleton designed for patients with spinal cord injuries and pathologies that inhibit their ability to walk. It is strapped over the user’s clothing. The patient doesn’t bear the weight, however, as the device transfers its 45 lb. load directly to the ground. Each Ekso can be adjusted in a few minutes to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5’2″ and 6’2″, with at least partial upper body strength, and can be adjusted to fit one patient and then another in minutes.
“We said we’d be shipping the first units in Q1 of 2012, and we made that deadline,” explained Eythor Bender, Ekso Bionics’ CEO. “Ekso Bionics has fulfilled all of the FDA requirements that empower the company to sell the first commercial version of the Ekso exoskeleton to rehabilitation centers,” he added. The sale of each exoskeleton to rehabilitation centers includes “Ekso +,” a comprehensive service, financing and training program.
“It was phenomenal,” architect Robert Woo and patient explained to the NY Daily News after taking 300 steps at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, where he’s undergoing rehabilitation. “I was so excited to be walking on my own two feet, walking naturally.” Michael Rhode, a C6/7 quadriplegic at the Kessler Institute, thought the experience “was one of the most unbelievable feelings I’ve ever had. I just started walking.” He certainly did. Michael took 520 steps during his first session in Ekso.
“We’ve been wowed by the dedication and willingness to collaborate on the part of our rehabilitation partners,” stated Eythor Bender. “The input from their world-class physical therapists led to multiple new and improved features on the Ekso device, such as the adjustment of the harnessing system and the control interface. All of these remarkable centers are still on this journey with us and in it for the long haul. Knowing that every single participant stood and walked during their first session confirms that we are on track to alter the future of spinal cord injury rehabilitation,” he added.