What is Ekso™?
Ekso™ is a bionic suit – or wearable robot -- which helps individuals with any amount of lower extremity weakness, including those with complete spinal cord injuries, to stand up and walk with a natural, fully weight bearing gait. Walking is achieved by user’s weight shifts or the push of a button to activate sensors in the device which initiate the steps. Battery-powered motors drive the legs, replacing deficient neuromuscular function.
Who is it for?
Ekso is for patients with lower-extremity weakness, paralysis or hemiparesis due neurological disease or injury such as spinal cord injuries, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Guilain Barre Syndrome. The user needs sufficient upper extremity strength to balance with crutches or a walker if the user has complete lower extremity paralysis, or functional strength through one side of the body if user presents with hemiplegia. Patients must also be between between 5'2" - 6'2" (150-190 cm) tall, weigh no more than 220 lbs (100 kg), and have hips no wider than 18".
How is it used?
Ekso provides rehabilitation, over ground gait training, and upright, weight bearing exercise under the supervision of a trained physical therapist. The suit is strapped over the users´ clothing with easy adjustments to transition between patients in as little as five minutes. Today, Ekso is used primarily in a clinic or rehabilitation setting (but always under the supervision of a physical therapist, or in limited cases as part of an IRB study with a trained lay spotter).
For people with complete lower extremity paralysis from a spinal cord injury, Ekso simply get them up and walking; providing the opportunity to see the world eye-to-eye again which alone can be a powerful benefit. There are anecdotal reports from users that they experience a reduction in secondary complications resulting from life in a wheelchair; such as neuropathic pain, bowel and bladder complications, and so forth. There are a number of researchers undertaking clinical studies to learn more about this.
For people with some motor ability intact, Ekso helps patients re-learn proper step patterns and weight shifts using a task-based platform which many clinicians believe may important for people who have the potential to re-learn to walk again; for example after a stroke or an incomplete spinal cord injury.
How is a patient evaluated to use Ekso?
Interested parties should first contact their nearest Ekso Center. In order to be eligible for Ekso a patient needs to bring a medical release. Then, a comprehensive physical evaluation is conducted, which typically takes one hour. During this evaluation, a physical therapist examines key requirements for use including range of motion, muscle strength and spasticity.
How fast can someone walk in it?
The walking speed is primarily dependant on a patient’s aptitude and condition.
How much does the device weigh?
The device weighs approximately 50 pounds (23 kg). The user doesn’t support the weight of the device as it is transferred into the ground through the exoskeleton.
Will users always use a walker? When can they use crutches?
All users complete a training program when learning to use Ekso. The learning curve is quite user specific and can depend on many factors. Usually, individuals begin using a walker and progress to crutches.
How can someone try it? Where is it available?
Please contact us to find an Ekso Center near you. This version of Ekso is intended to be used in a medically supervised environment.