Monday, November 30, 2020

Exoskeletons Improve Mobility (A Recent Study and A Future Outlook)

Exciting research!  This study set out to learn how many exoskeleton training sessions are necessary to help users "gain adequate exoskeletal assisted walking skills and attain velocity milestones."

Researchers offered participants the opportunity to use the Ekso GT and ReWalk.  Even 12 sessions made a positive difference for about two-thirds of the participants.  After 36 sessions, over 80% of everyone in the study had met the goals originally set by the researchers. 

Importantly, the study again indicates that exoskeletons can improve users' mobility overall.

According to Dr. Gail Forrest of Kessler Foundation:

"Participants showed improvement regardless of level of injury, completeness, or duration of injury . . . indicating that exoskeletons can be used to improve mobility across a broad spectrum of individuals with neurological deficits caused by spinal cord injury."

The United Spinal Association has a free resource with information about several exoskeleton types and availability for users with SCIs.  A 2020 article on The Spinal Cord Injury Zone discusses some of the exoskeletons' designs, limitations, and possible benefits.

From another perspective, outside of the world of spinal cord injuries, exoskeletons may be set to transform life for virtually everyone.  Several of those who have founded related start-ups estimate that the technology will be "commonplace" in ten years.  That's an impressive footprint — literally.