By Diane Israel
Better, stronger, faster. Those words and the rapid patter in which they captured my imagination as they introduced each episode of The Six Million Dollar Man was the science fiction of the day. Dad, while captivated, had his doubts about a human becoming half a machine in his lifetime. It really did seem far-fetched. And so did StarTrek‘s communicator at the time. Fast-forward a few decades and Voila!, smartphones are literally everywhere.
And while bionics are still not ubiquitous, if you’re anything like me, you had no idea that they are indeed commercially available today. Actually, there are both superhuman and augmentation versions on the market, the former which provides additional strength and stamina to a healthy human body, and the latter which does something even more awe-inspiring: Allowing the handicap to walk again.
This is where the story gets personal. A good friend of mine, Monique, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1993. The first symptoms showed up at a party I threw at my house. Monique was having difficulty keeping her balance. And no. She wasn’t drinking. Three weeks later, the diagnosis was official.
A year later she was walking with the assistance of a cane. Five years later, she required a walker along with handheld pedals affixed to the steering wheel so we could continue to drive. Ten years after that, she was confined to a wheelchair or a scooter.
Today, 2.2 million Americans are confined to a wheelchair while another 6.5 million require a cane or walker to assist with their mobility.
But now there’s a Six Million Dollar Man kinda option. A bionic exoskeleton developed by the Israeli company ReWalk Technologies is allowing those with mobility handicaps that ability to walk again.
Now in the 6th generation release of its personal exoskeleton technology, ReWalk is the first and only technology of its kind to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The company offers two kinds of exoskeletons:
- ReWalk Personal 6.0: Designed for in-home and community use.
- ReWalk Rehabilitation: Designed for training centers.
Now, people like Monique who suffer from an incurable degenerative disease can, with an assist from ReWalk, walk again. In addition, ReWalk 6.0 assists paraplegics, who have no motor activity in their lower extremities, the ability to walk as well. ReWalk Rehabilitation is commonly used to help speed the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke victims.
About ReWalk Technologies
ReWalk Robotics is an innovative medical device company that is designing, developing and commercializing exoskeletons allowing wheelchair-bound individuals to stand and walk once again. The company has offices in Israel, Germany, and the United States.