Lighter Exoskeleton will allow disabled to more independent

Vanderbilt University exoskeleton weighs about 27 pounds, nearly half the weight of the other models that weigh around 45 pounds. The other models are also bulkier so most users wearing them cannot fit into a standard-sized wheelchair.

Parker has licensed the exoskeleton and plans to release Indego exoskeleton in 2014.

* Indego is small enough to accommodate low profile wheelchairs.

* Indego allows users to stand and walk on all surfaces including stairs and gain access to areas not accessible via a wheelchair.

* Indego weighs just 27 pounds and snaps apart into three pieces for maximum convenience.

Indego is 40-50% lighter than competing devices and provides a modular design that can be assembled and dis-assembled for ease of use and transportation. This device is also smaller, with a slim profile and no bulky backpack components or footplates. A proprietary control interface allows for smooth operation that works in harmony with natural human movement and body position. Indego is the only wearable device that incorporates a proven rehabilitation technology called functional electrical stimulation.

One issue is the degree to which the devices promote independence. The Ekso and the ReWalk, for example, each weigh about 45 pounds and require the wearer to use a backpack. Because of their weight, size and design, both of hese devices also require a second person to transport and set up the device before it is worn. The Vanderbilt device, by contrast, is designed to be transported, assembled, donned and doffed independently.

In 2012 the Ekso was priced at $130,000, though the company says it is aiming to produce a personal Ekso to retail for $50,000 to $75,000 in 2014. Reports have indicated the ReWalk will cost $85,000 or more. The price point for the [Vanderbilt] device will be significantly lower than the published costs for either the ReWalk or the Ekso system. So it should be lower than $50,000 in price.

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