Robotic legs may provide hope for disabled veterans

Robotic legs may provide hope for disabled veterans

A potentially exciting new development for veterans with lower body paralysis comes from a singularly unexpected source — a 100-year-old manufacturer that supplies parts to companies like Boeing and Caterpillar.

An article in The Wall Street Journal talks about the efforts of Parker Hannifin Corp. to broaden its business as a company creating equipment and parts for manufacturing machinery, airplanes and construction equipment. Its response? Creating motorized robotic braces that attach to the legs of someone who has been paralyzed below the waist because of spinal-cord injuries. These braces add support, and motors bend the knees and help move the legs forward.

The focus of the article is a 28-year-old paraplegic from Georgia, David Carter, who was paralyzed following a motorcycle accident in 2010. Carter is also featured in the video above.

According to The Journal, “Indego, which weighs 26 pounds and functions as an external skeleton, could benefit an estimated 1.7 million people in the U.S. alone, including 25,000 military veterans with spinal-cord injuries.”

An Israeli company, ReWalk Robotics, is the only company to have been given approval from the FDA to market a similar device, and the VA has devices created by other companies in use at its hospitals for rehabilitation purposes.

Still, Parker Hannifin Corp. believes the business for these wearable robotics will increase from a $7 million industry worldwide to as much as $2 billion by 2020. There’s real hope for disabled veterans, and developments that are worth watching.