FDA-approved exoskeleton might soon replace wheelchairs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given clearance to market and sell the powered lower-limb exoskeleton created by a team of Vanderbilt engineers and commercialized by the Parker Hannifin Corporation for both clinical and personal use in the United States. The FDA’s clearance came after the completion of the largest exoskeleton clinical trial conducted to date in the United States.

Indego is designed to allow people who are paralyzed below the waist to stand up and walk. H. Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering Michael Goldfarb developed the exoskeleton with a team of engineers and students in his Center for Intelligent Mechatronics.

According to Inverse: "Indego weighs just 26 pounds, which is less than half the weight of competing devices, and can be collapsed into five pieces for bagging in the trunk of a car. It also has a single-hand strapping and retention system that allows the user to take the apparatus on and off without any assistance. The whole exoskeleton operates with an iOS app and can be used for four hours on a single charge.

While Goldfarb says that he doesn’t think Indego will completely replace the wheelchair yet, it will help paraplegics enter places that are otherwise inaccessible, like airplane aisles and theaters. Simply being able to stand is a luxury many take for granted. Those bound to wheelchairs face osteoporosis, and digestion, cardiovascular, and bowel issues. Indego can mitigate those effects. It’s also the only wearable robot that has a rehabilitation technology — called functional electrical stimulation — which sends small electrical pulses to paralyzed muscles, contracting and relaxing them."

To learn more, read " The 26-Pound Exoskeleton Just Approved By the FDA is a Killer App" from Inverse.