Exoskeletons help patients regain mobility
By Euronews • last updated: 25/06/2018
Four years ago, Pablo Albisua Albizu's life changed forever.
Just after heart surgery, this former decorator suffered a stroke that left one side of his body paralysed.
Along with undertaking hundreds of rehabilitation sessions, he also volunteered to test a new exoskeleton.
Developed by biomedical engineers, the exoskeleton is made out of aeronautical aluminium. It weighs 12 kilos and it has been designed to assist in the rehabilitation of patients like Pablo, who have suffered strokes.
And it worked, Pablo says.
"Before, when I went shopping in a car, we went around and around to find parking places as close as possible to the shops. And if I was not able to find one, I often just drove back home. I could not find the strength to walk even short distances. Now that has completely changed. I can even go to big shopping malls and I dare to walk around for a long time. That was simply not possible before. I was too tired."
The exoskeleton has six motors that help patients correct their walking patterns.
Parameters like speed or movement angles can be easily customized depending on the needs of each patient.
"This exoskeleton gives us two advantages," explains Iker Mariñelarena Arrizabalaga, a biomedical engineer at Gogoa Mobility Robots, which is based in Urretxu, in northern Spain.
"First, we can correct the patient's body movements that aren't working. And second, we can give patients more customized treatments. In a classical rehabilitation, you can't always guarantee that movements are repeated in the most accurate, efficient way. Physiotherapists and patients do what they can. And patients often get tired or suffer injuries because they are forced into unnatural positions. But with an exoskeleton, you can always guarantee accuracy while repeating movements and you can also get more accurate data."
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