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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

eLEGS Makes Walking Possible for Paraplegics

Bionic legs offer new mobility for the wheelchair-bound.

By Jaymi Heimbuch 
San Francisco, CA From

bionics Screengrab via video from BerkeleyBionics
Few things are likely more amazing than regaining the use of your legs if you're wheelchair bound. Berkeley Bionics has created an exoskeleton that allows a paraplegic person to stand up and walk. Typically, the inventions coming from the labs at Berkeley Bionics help add strength and endurance to people traveling long distances with heavy loads, such as military personnel. However, they've upped the bar on their inventions, so to speak, and unveiled eLEGS last week.

CEO Eythor Bender stated in a press conference, “Many of the 6 million Americans who live with some form of paralysis today were highly active and at the top of their game when they sustained their injury. As they research their options for increased mobility, they discover that wheelchairs are pretty much it... We want to enhance their independence and freedom of movement."

You can see from the video below that the possibilities of strength training and freedom of movement are extraordinary, thanks to the electronic exoskeleton. While it will be used primarily for rehabilitation at medical centers, one day it could possibly be used as an alternative for wheel chairs.

eLEGS is battery powered, and can go as quickly as 2 mph depending on the user's abilities and strength. It works by sensing the user's gestures and intentions to move forward, and reacts accordingly, a little bit like the brain-powered wheelchair.