Six-time Olympic champion and former University of Arizona swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who was paralyzed from the waist down last year, is walking with the help of a “wearable robot.”
Van Dyken-Rouen, 42, uses robotics from a California-based company called Ekso Bionics to assist her in walking during her physical therapy sessions.
Standing upright and walking with the help of the Ekso exoskeleton suit provides health benefits to people like Van Dyken-Rouen who have paraplegia, as it helps with bladder function, as well as muscle and bone strength.
Muscle wasting and gastrointestinal problems often arise, as a result of constantly sitting in a wheelchair.
The technology Van Dyken-Rouen is using is different from the modular prosthetic limbs being developed by former University of Arizona chief resident Dr. Albert Chi at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Chi’s robotics are for upper limbs only, are controlled via eye movement and are capable of motor and sensory function.
The wearable Ekso technology is a nearly 50-pound assistive suit with battery-powered motors that drive the legs, replacing deficient neuromuscular function. Walking is achieved by the user’s weight shifts to activate sensors in the device that initiate steps under a physical therapist’s supervision.
Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has created an organization called the Amy Van Dyken Foundation to help people with spinal cord injuries pay for adaptive equipment that’s not covered by insurance.
See photos and video of Van Dyken-Rouen’s rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury, including video of her using the Ekso exoskeleton. Visit her on Instagram
Van Dyken-Rouen wears the Ekso exoskeleton once a week during her Wednesday physical therapy sessions, her spokeswoman Stacy Volhein wrote in an email.
|Eythor Bender’s Ekso Bionics makes powered, wearable robots known as “exoskeletons” that boost human strength, endurance, and mobility. But can they help a paraplegic walk? Watch this incredible story. TEDMED 2011. Published on Youtube Nov 28, 2011|
|Find Your Strength // Ekso Bionics. Developed for neurorehabilitation, EksoNR is an intuitive exoskeleton device that empowers patients recovering from stroke or other conditions to learn to walk again with a more natural gait. Our core belief is that everyone deserves to live the best life they can. We make robotic exoskeletons for use in rehabilitation centers, so that people who are recovering from stroke and spinal cord injuries can take their lives back. Ekso Bionics. Published on Youtube. Aug 15, 2019|
|In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks to Russ Angold, co-founder and CTO of Ekso Bionics, about the wearable bionic suit, Ekso. This suit enables individuals with any amount of lower extremity weakness to stand up and walk over ground with a natural, full weight bearing, reciprocal gait. Walking is achieved by the user’s weight shifts to activate sensors in the device which initiate steps. Battery-powered motors drive the legs, replacing deficient neuromuscular function. Robohub|
Ekso Bionics® Unveils the Next Generation Exoskeleton for Neurorehabilitation in GlobeNewswire