The bionic bunch: Largest gathering ever of exoskeleton-wearers walk for charity
Published November 18, 2013
ReWalk inventor Dr. Amit Goffer (bottom row) and other ReWalkers participate in a 5K walk in New York City’s Riverside Park.(ARGO MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES)
Using new exoskeleton technology that allows the paralyzed to walk again, the largest gathering ever of ReWalk users from across the world came together in New York City on Sunday to participate in the Generosity 5K to raise money for the Bronx Veterans Medical Research Foundation.
ARGO Medical’s Rewalk suit is living up to its promise: to revolutionize the way paraplegics and other people with disabilities live.
“Regardless of whether it’s from ARGO or another company, it’s a technology that none of us realize how big of a difference it makes in the health of a patient,” ARGO Medical Technologies CEO Larry Jasinski told FoxNews.com.
Although it rained in New York City on Monday, the rain stayed away Sunday while seven ReWalkers and hundreds of supporters successfully made their way through Manhattan’s Riverside Park.
“I think the most important thing was that the ReWalkers completed the walk,” Jasinski said.
Among the participants was the inventor of the suit, Dr. Amit Goffer. Goffer is himself a quadriplegic who became frustrated by the outdated wheelchair and wanted to create something that would allow people with spinal cord injuries to walk again.
“What’s unique about ReWalk is that behind the left elbow of the user is a motion sensor that picks up a user’s movement when they walk,” Jasinski said. “That is attached to a computer that can replicate human gait to create a non-robotic walking step.”
Most other types of technologies cause an unnatural, stiff walk closer to a robot than to the way humans stride. ReWalk helps to create a more natural and human-like step.
“It’s the closest to walking that I can get. It’s a very good feeling,” ReWalker Gene Laureano, a father of four who became paralyzed 12 years ago after falling from a ladder at his construction job, told theNew York Post.
The 44-pound ReWalk suit is composed of two motorized limbs that strap to the legs, hips and trunk. The motion sensors detect when the user leans forward and begins moving.
The suit is currently available only in the Middle East and Europe, but Jasinski says he hopes to have FDA approval to sell the suits in the United States for an approximate $65,000.
“We believe the cost of the device will be more than offset by cost savings in reduction of medication and medical care,” he said.
“When we ask people why they buy the suit, the top five answers do not include walking again,” Jasinski told FoxNews.com. “Reduction in pain, medication and overall improvement in their wellbeing are more important. [ReWalk] is really making a difference in people’s lives.”