Recently, with the help of the MARSOC Foundation and many other individuals, I was able to obtain the Argo ReWalk ExoSkeleton for use at my office under the supervision of my Physical Therapist. I have been training with the device since November of 2013. I am very passionate about this technology and cannot overstate the potential it has to positively impact the lives of other paraplegics in the future.
I have advocated for the proliferation of this technology now for some time, and it has truly made a difference in my life. There are currently two companies that have working products available for purchase by clinics, one made by Argo Medical Technologies called the ReWalk and one made by Ekso Bionics called the Ekso. I had the opportunity to test-drive both of these products before I made a decision to purchase the ReWalk. The video below shows some of the differences between the two devices as they are pictured side by side.
The key considerations that led me to choose the ReWalk was that it was specifically designed for personal use. It is currently approved for personal use in Europe and Israel, and in the near future hopefully, will obtain approval from the FDA for personal use in the USA. Because this was the primary objective of the engineers who designed the device, it is very practical and has many useful features that are beneficial for individuals.
The key performance benefits of the ReWalk that I desired in an exoskeleton are:
Faster top speed – The ReWalk can travel at speeds nearly 2.5-3 times faster than the Ekso. Ekso places a priority on stepping vice walking.
Better ability to turn – Because the ReWalk uses inserts to the users shoes and the Ekso uses a platform underneath a shoe, the ReWalk is easier to make turns in once the user learns the proper turning procedure.
Desirable gait pattern – Ekso has done a lot of research and believes that their gait pattern is superior to the ReWalk, but I just really like the way the ReWalk walks. It is less stepping and placing the foot and more of what I believe to be a natural walking pattern.
Both devices are incredible machines and feats of engineering, and I hope that they continue to stay in business to make each other better, but for me the ReWalk was the machine I chose to purchase.