Human tests begin on robot exoskeleton

Six people with traumatic spinal cord injuries have tested Ekso, the robotic exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics that enables wheelchair users to stand and walk.

Monitored by scientists at Kessler Foundation, the six participated in one week of preliminary testing in October 2011.

According to a statement, five patients have paraplegia and one has quadriplegia; ranged in age from 27 to 45 and had durations of injury from four months to two years.

In early 2012, the research team, headed by senior research scientist Gail Forrest, PhD, will commence a clinical study in collaboration with Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

The week of preliminary testing is said to have provided key information that will guide protocol development, including selection criteria for individuals with spinal cord injury.

‘We will look at the effects of standing and walking for people with paralysis due to spinal cord injury,’ said Dr. Forrest. ‘Whether there are physiologic changes taking place, and what those changes mean in terms of functional improvement.”

While the study at Kessler will focus on the benefits of Ekso in rehabilitation settings, Ekso Bionics also plans to explore the potential for home and community use.