WASHINGTON — Federal health regulators in the US approved Thursday a first-of-a-kind set of robotic leg braces that can help some disabled people walk again.
The ReWalk system, developed in Israel, functions like an exoskeleton for people paralyzed from the waist down, allowing them to stand and walk with assistance from a caretaker.
The device was developed by the founder of Israel-based Argo Medical Technologies, who was paralyzed in a 1997 car crash.
The ReWalk device consists of leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to subtle changes in upper-body movement and shifts in balance. A harness around the patient’s waist and shoulders keeps the suit in place, and a backpack holds the computer and rechargeable battery. Crutches are used for stability.
“Innovative devices such as ReWalk go a long way towards helping individuals with spinal cord injuries gain some mobility,” FDA officials Christy Foreman said in a statement.
ReWalk is intended for people who are disabled due to certain spinal cord injuries. The device retails for about $70,000 in the US, according to CBS News.
During his official state visit to Israel in March 2013, US President Barack Obama was shown the ReWalk device, among a number of other emerging Israeli technologies.