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Amanda Boxtel’s excitement is contagious. That’s because she’s been taking the recently unveiled Berkeley Bionics eLEGS exoskeleton for a walk in the park. Not the easiest thing to do if you’ve been in a wheelchair for the last 18 years.

Based on their HULC military exoskeleton and going into medical trials soon, Berkeley Bionics eLEGS have set a new precedent for rehabilitation and personal mobility going forward. [via BotJunkie]

This is not a wave of the future. The eLEGS is happening right now. I don’t have to be hopeful. This is reality.

Adam Flaherty

I make cool stuff and write about other people making cool stuff on makezine.com. If you have something you think I should see, send me a tip.


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Comments

  1. Becky Stern says:

    WANT

  2. ethicalcannibal.livejournal.com says:

    That is so hopeful, but ten years of nursing makes me cynical. Sure it will be out there, but it will be classified as experimental for as long as any insurance can get away with it. Like most really advanced prosthetics, I fear it will only be accessible for those that have money. Lots of it.

    I hope I’m wrong, because I have worked with so many folks that used wheelchairs, and to give back that kind of mobility would be miraculous.

    1. Becky Stern says:

      Progress has to come from somewhere, no reason to be a downer on this research but rather we should focus on reforming the broken systems like insurance.

    2. beverlymillson.myopenid.com says:

      @ethicalcannibal

      Good to see a nurse following the story. I manage Berkeley Bionics’ PR as an outside consultant and I can tell you that Berkeley Bionics shares your concerns about insurance coverage. That’s why they appointed Eythor Bender as their new CEO. Eythor was responsible for launching three bionic prosthetic devices in the US, and in fact, the world. To my knowledge, most insurers are now picking up the cost of a lot of these devices and the key is getting the right kind of FDA clearance as well as studies to prove that they not only enhance but improve the users’ health.

      A great example of something wonderful that went darn wrong was Dean Kamen’s iBot wheelchair. This incredible device that could actually go up and down stairs never got the right clearance – in Europe they were classified as a car! – and as a result, they never made it.

      Trust that Berkeley Bionics will not make the same mistakes.

    3. simplehoomin.myopenid.com says:

      +1

      Agreed. These are guaranteed to be very expensive pieces of hardware, and those with the best insurance or deepest pockets will likely be the only benefactors, if any; they are highly technical and specialized, then attach the word “medical” to them and the price will increase fivefold or more. There are many “robotic” or powered prosthetic devices out there that are very effective compared to the most basic types, yet they fall into the “too expensive” and experimental categories.

      I hope that this device does not disappear, but with the way insurance companies work I don’t have high hopes of seeing any of these in use.

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