Paralyzed people will have a new option to walk again

07.03.19 | by Aline Salmi in health, innovation,

In the US, nearly 1.5 million people live with paralysis due to Spinal Cord Injuries and only 0.9% of the cases fully recover. The highest incidence happens at the ages of 16-30 and 48% of the injuries are caused by accidents with motor vehicles.

Considering this scenario, the startup TWIICE is developing a lower limb exoskeleton that allows paraplegic people to walk again.

Although exoskeletons seem like a futuristic robotic thing from Science Fiction, where individuals use it to enhance their abilities, It is now a reality. However instead of powering-up people’s skills, the goal of this innovation is to give back autonomy to its users, enabling them to stand up, walk around and go up and down stairs.

These mechanic legs have a 3-hour battery and are adaptable to different morphologies and pathologies due to its modularity. The exoskeleton can also be paired with crutches that control the functions of the gadget, such as pace and speed.  

One of the most notable aspects of the development of TWIICE was the deep involvement with the group that should benefit from this new technology. With the help of former acrobat and handbike athlete Silke Pan, who committed to testing and giving unique first-person insights to adjust and improve the tool. The scientists of the project presented the new model of this walking-assistance in November 2018, and according to Pan it “gives us [disabled] even greater independence”, as it can be fully set by the user.

The exoskeleton has been in development since 2015 at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), with the first testable prototype coming a year and a half later. Now TWIICE is continuing to improve their exoskeleton in the hopes of bringing a new and unique solution to market.

Check out the video with Silke Pan showing the device working.