Using a battery-powered, robotic exoskeleton device, six patients at Good Shepherd Penn Partners this month walked for the first time in years.
The Philadelphia-area rehab center is only the sixth health care facility in the country to put the bionic device to the test.
Manufactured by Berkeley, Calif.-based Ekso Bionics, the exoskeleton is a lightweight robot that uses motors and sensors to assist a user's movements. It is strapped over a patient's clothing and controlled remotely by a physical therapist.
For patients with lower-extremity paralysis, the device can help them stand and walk with an efficient, reciprocal gait pattern.
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the exoskeleton now is available to all Good Shepherd patients for regular therapy (George, Philadelphia Business Journal, 4/12; CBS Philadelphia, 4/12).