eLegs: Robotic Technology


A new breakthrough technology created by Berkeley Bionics called “eLEGS,” a wearable robotic exoskeleton, is enabling those paralyzed to stand and walk as part of an investigational study at Spaulding.

Seven years ago, David Leone learned to navigate the world after a severe spinal cord injury rendered him paralyzed from the waist down. In the time since his injury he has had a child, returned to work and found activities like hand cycling to best regain the active lifestyle he once had. While hopeful for medical innovations, he also accepted his spinal cord injury. However a new breakthrough technology created by Berkeley Bionics called
“eLEGS,” a wearable robotic exoskeleton, enabled him to stand and take his first steps in seven years as part of an investigational study at Spaulding.

Berkeley Bionics and Spaulding partnered through Spaulding’s Motion Analysis Lab under the leadership of Dr. Paolo Bonato, to have a one week test this past September, involving 6 patients, to test and define clinical protocols for the new device. “Introducing novel approaches is what the clinicians and researchers at Spaulding are always striving for. To be able to give people new avenues of independence can be life altering and seeing people this week take their first steps in many years is very powerful,” said Dr. Ross Zafonte.

Named by Time magazine and CNN as one of the top innovations of the year, eLEGS is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered exoskeleton that is strapped over the user’s clothing. The user initiates the steps by triggering non-invasive movement sensors in the crutches that communicate with the computer carried in the backpack. The user
doesn’t bear the weight of the device as it transfers its load directly to the ground. The device can be adjusted to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5’2”and 6’2”, with at least partial upper body strength.

“Many of the 6 million Americans who live with some form of paralysis today were highly active when they sustained their injury. With eLEGS, they can stand up and walk for the first time since their injury. We are on the verge of a new era of mobility for people with paralysis, using bionic exoskeletons,” said Eythor Bender, Berkeley Bionics’ CEO.

Berkeley Bionics has partnered with ten of the top rehabilitation facilities nationwide including Spaulding as part of this testing phase. Spaulding will become one of the first eLEGS Centers in the world when it incorporates the technology as part of therapy programs in early 2012.

Spaulding and the people there gave me the courage, strength, and desire to get my life back. Now I can function and play with my girls and enjoy my husband. Thank you for giving me my life back.

A Patient with Newfound Courage

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