October 8, 2010
eLEGS Will Let the Paralyzed Walk Againby iona
California’s Berkeley Bionics has announced the development of eLEGS, a computer-controlled exoskeleton for paraplegics that will allow them to get out of their wheelchairs and walk. Sensors in eLEGS monitor the user’s gestures to determine what they want to do, allowing the paralyzed to walk, and retraining the muscles and nerves of people who suffering from mobility problems. Sounds like a great idea, but there are a few glitches. Firstly, you will still need the support of crutches. Second, being an exoskelton, you need to wear eLEGS over your clothes, including your shoes, so there is no way you can disguise it like a prosthetic limb. Thirdly, you need to be able-bodied enough to get yourself in and out of your wheelchair to get yourself into eLEGS. If you can do this, then the developers say it should take no more than two minutes to put on.
eLEGS weighs 45 lbs (20 kg) and its battery will keep you on the move for about six hours, at speeds of up to 2mph (3.22km/h). Clinical trials are scheduled for 2011, and eLEGS will be on limited release in select American rehabilitation clinics later that year.