ReWalk with Glee
This, the second season, of Fox’s hit show Glee has seen Artie become a football player (he and his teammates cleverly deciding to use Artie and his wheelchair as a battering ram on the field), and last week we saw him stand thanks to a wish to Santa from Brittany (who still believes ^_^), and the use of an ingenious robotic system called the ReWalk.Since first airing, the show’s Artie character has been a large source of praise and debate, being both praised for the show’s topical content on some very big social issues regarding disability to ctiticisms for not choosing an actor who is in real life a paraplegic.
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, last week’s episode, A Very Glee Christmas (here’s a temporary link to watch the full episode), featured a unique device called the ReWalk from ARGO Medical Technologies Ltd. Founded in 2001 and located in Haifa’s MATAM hi-tech industrial park, Argo operated, until end of 2007, under the auspices of the TechnionSeed (formerly the Technion Incubator), part of the Technion – Israel’s renowned Institute of Technology. The ReWalk is the company’s flagship of innovative development of walk restoration devices for people with lower limb disabilities. The product offers an ambulation alternative to wheelchair users, enabling paralyzed people to stand, walk, and even climb stairs. Click here to read more on the ReWalk and how it works.The ReWalk is a wearable, motorized quasi robotic suit that provides user-initiated mobility. Through leveraging advanced motion sensors, some sophisticated robotic control algorithms, on-board computers, real-time software, actuation motors, some composite materials, and good ole’ fashion rechargeable batteries, the ReWalk creates movement through sublte changes in the user’s center of gravity and upper-body movements.
Some of the benefits to this ultra-nifty device:
this user participation in mobility brings tangible health and emotional benefits. ReWalk™ is not just a vertical wheelchair – ReWalk™ restores the element of control over mobility so lacking for wheelchair users.
As any sedentary wheelchair user can attest, life in a wheelchair carries a hefty healthcare price tag. Serious problems with the urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive systems are common, as well as osteoporosis, pressure sores and other afflictions.
By maintaining users upright on a daily basis, and exercising even paralyzed limbs in the course of movement, ReWalk™ alleviates many of the health-related problems associated with long-term wheelchair use. In addition to relieving suffering, this has a real impact on healthcare costs – cutting yearly expenses almost in half, and enabling both insurers and individuals to redirect funds to other avenues.
Read more on the ReWalk here.
The ReWalk not only has possibilities for personal mobility, its use would also drastically cut the need and cost of owning standing devices, stair lifts, bed lifts, and other mobility assistance apparatus or even the need of owning expensive powered wheelchairs. For theraputic institutions, the ReWalk has potential as a theraputic or physical training device, used for intensive functional locomotion therapy, and could replace the use of expensive mechanized gait trainers.
The ReWalk is designed for all day usage and requires the user to have the ability to use hands and shoulders and have a healthy cardiovascular system and bone density.
Videos of the ReWalk in action (other than its appearance in Glee ^_^), as well as some videos of its media coverage, are available on ARGO’s website.