We’re officially one step closer to creating a real Bionic Man. That’s because of a new bionic suit – called Ekso, as in exoskeleton – that’s allowing people with spinal cord injuries to comfortably walk again, on their own. The suit’s currently being tested by three patients, including one man who hasn’t been able to walk since being paralyzed in an accident three years ago! But with the Ekso suit, he says he gets a “powerful feeling” to be able to stand, balance, walk, and look people in the eye again.
How does Ekso work? It’s actually a battery-powered external skeleton, which is strapped over a person’s clothing. Sensors in the foot-plates pinpoint the center of gravity and a computer drives the hip and knee motors in a way that allows people to balance and take a step. Experts say the result is a much smoother walking experience, compared to what you normally see with patients using leg braces and crutches.
Unfortunately, the Ekso prototype that’s now being tested costs about $150,000! But experts say that if the tests go as planned, and the technology catches on, that cost will likely drop. And in our lifetime, it’ll be a realistic solution for patients with spinal cord injuries – allowing them to walk on their own.