The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ReWalk, robotic exoskeleton that allows paralyzed people to walk again. Patients that are paralyzed from the waist down will once again be free to move about without having to use a wheelchair.
One such patient is Robert Woo, who became paralyzed after seven tons of steel fell around 30 stories onto his construction trailer. He tried out ReWalk last year as part of a clinical trial, and loved it.
“I’m just so excited; I wish I had it on. I could just jump up and down,” Robert Woo said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s a great leap forward for a lot of us who are confined to wheelchairs.”
Woo was only able to use ReWalk for a few short months, but cannot wait to be able to someday get one of his own. It allowed him to do things he was able to do before the accident, like go on walks with his family.
“I can’t want to take my family out for a walk in the park and do things that I couldn’t do being in a wheelchair,” Woo said.
The robotic exoskeleton works by fitting its leg braces with motion sensors that respond to subtle changes in body movement. Then, motorized joints power the machine, allowing for patients to move their legs and walk.
The device runs on a battery and computer that are both worn in a backpack on the user’s back. The wearer also must use crutches, which are used as a precautionary method in case the patient loses balance.
Although the device is a medical breakthrough, it is a costly one. Buying ReWalk will cost a patient around $70,000. Though the cost might be worth it, coming up with that type of money is no easy task.
Woo has been in contact with family members, his insurance company, and the maker of ReWalk, Argo Medical Technologies, to come up with the money to buy the device.
“I’d like to propose to the company that maybe if they give me a better price for it they can track the progress of me using it at home,” he said.
Argo Medical Technologies developed ReWalk after the company founder was left paralyzed from a car crash in 1997.