Shepherd Center Article Calls Exoskeleton a Possible "Breakthrough"

A powered exoskeleton created by engineers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., could be a breakthrough for people with spinal cord injury (SCI), according to an article published by Shepherd Center.

The Atlanta-based rehabilitation hospital has been testing the exoskeleton and discussing its design with Vanderbilt's team. Shepherd Center has described the exoskeleton as weighing "just 27 pounds," noting it "can snap apart to fit into a backpack."

The article adds, "The Vanderbilt exoskeleton can be used by any person with the tricep and grip strength to use a stability aid ... That profile includes some people with SCI as high as the lower cervical cord." Because the user controls the device by leaning forward, backward or to either side, Michael Goldfarb, Ph.D., creator of the powered system, has called it a "legged Segway," referencing the gyroscopic transportation device of inventor Dean Kamen.

To view a demonstration of the exoskeleton, click HERE. The exoskeleton is due to be demonstrated later this month during the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation conference in Atlanta.

This week, Parker Hannifan Corp. announced it had signed a licensing agreement with Vanderbilt for its exoskeleton technology. The agreement, Parker Hannifan said in its news announcement, gives the company "exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and sell the device." Parker Hannifan, which describes itself as the global leader in motion and control technologies, added that it plans to further invest in the technology and will establish a division whose goal will be to commercially launch the exoskeleton in 2014.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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