This isn’t the first time science fact has caught up with science fiction.
And in this case, the technology provides an incredible opportunity for people who can’t walk to walk again–without looking like a creature from another planet.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving medical devices for use in the United States. It has recently approved a personal exoskeleton for people who have lost use of their legs–the first of its kind, called ReWalk.
The computer and battery components of the device weigh about five pounds and strap to the user’s back. The backpack is connected to straps around the legs; the leg braces weigh forty-six pounds but are self-supporting.
A device located on the wrist has buttons for the wearer to select sitting, standing, or walking mode. The battery can operate for continuous walking for up to four hours; intermittent walking with sitting and standing can extend the life for a full day.
The ReWalk can help people between 5’3″ and 6’3″ weighing less than 220 pounds.
The use of prosthetics isn’t new.
Wood, metal, and synthetic apparatus have been used in the past to replace limbs. Their practical use, however, was severely limited.
Current prosthetics employ: Bluetooth technology so limbs can communicate with each other; microprocessors in knees to moderate pressure; myoelectric sensors for muscle control; and connected controlling devices activated by adjacent muscles through conscious movement.
Prosthetics’ advanced technology using carbon fiber was allowed in the last Olympics’ track and field 400-meter race, making history. A new study documents the development and use of a prosthetic hand that can actually “feel” an object by electrically stimulating ulnar nerves.
What the exoskeleton does that limb prosthetics don’t do is provide the ability to walk for people who have suffered spinal injury, cutting off use of the lower extremities.
Although the FDA has approved the new device, medical insurance has not yet been expanded to cover the cost, which is currently almost $70,000. The manufacturers are working with insurers to change that.
Research continues to expand and improve prosthetics, which have evolved way past simply strapping on a wooden leg. Incorporating robotics, electrical sensors, and new synthetic materials continue to advance the quality of life for those who have suffered limb loss.
Exploration into “brain computer interfaces” sounds very Philip K. Dick-ish but is a reality in this twenty-first century.
The use of exoskeletons advances as well, although their access to everyday people will probably be limited for quite a while due to their high cost. In addition to the ReWalk, current exoskeleton technology is being used in combat and situations involving hazardous conditions for humans:
“Maybe there’s something heartening going on here. Maybe as we build a future that keeps the human in the exoskeleton equation, we’ll dream of advancements that avoid the monstrous side of the possibilities, and we’ll keep exoskeletons where they serve us best—in awesome science-fiction movies.
Here’s what an actual user has to say about this.
- Multiple Studies Show THIS Fruit To Be a Powerful Medicine Against Cancer
The herbal medical community has recently announced studies of Soursop. This fruit is more effective for cancer treatment than the numerous …
- 5 Foods To Protect Your Skin From UV Radiation
The food you eat can make a dramatic impact on how your skin looks. Certain foods, in particular, can promote …
- 7 Herbs That Help Reduce Stress Naturally
There’s nothing good about stress – multiple studies show that stress is associated with weight gain, cardiovascular issues, and countless …
- How To Effectively Deep-Clean And Freshen Your Mattress Without Using Bleach
Although most people clean their bed sheets every week, it’s rare for people to think of washing their mattress even …
- Antibacterial Soaps May Pose Health Risks, FDA Says; Should They Be Banned?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accelerated its review of the use of triclosan and triclocarban—two pesticides used in antibacterial products—due …
- Black Pepper And Turmeric – The Combination That Could Save Lives
Breast cancer is one of the most feared diseases that can affect both men and women. Although breast cancer itself …
- 11 Brilliant Ways To Reuse Tea Bags Before Throwing Them Out!
There’s nothing like a nice cup of tea to help you relax after a long day of work. When it comes …
- What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You
Dr Ray Strand’s What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You was originally published over ten …
- Cancer-Stricken Woman Gets Layoff Letter After Boss Learns She’s Fighting the Disease
This story sends a pall over the whole medical profession. It also re-affirms faith in love. Carol Jumper had worked …
- 5 of the Best DIY Toothpaste Recipes
Did you know your current toothpaste could be harming your health? Yes, from toxic ingredients such as Triclosan (an antibacterial agent) …
- 5 Simple Steps to Reverse the Effects of Aging
Why is it that some people seem to age slowly and gracefully, while others look haggard at a relatively young …
- Gluten Can Cause Depression, Migraines, Headaches and Other Neurological Disorders, Study Suggests
When you think of wheat, protein is probably not your first association. But did you know that this seemingly healthy …
- Costco Is Buying Over A Thousand Acres Of Land For Local Farmers To Grow Organic Produce
Costco isn’t exactly where you’d think of shopping for natural products, but they certainly starting making their mark on the …
- “Organic” Food From China Found To Be Highly Contaminated
With increasing awareness of the benefits of proper nutrition, organic food has taken the world by storm. Organic food sales …
- How The Sugar Industry Paid Harvard Researchers to Say Fat (Not Sugar) Caused Heart Disease
As you might have noticed, sugar has now undergone the same criticism that fat and cholesterol once had. For over …