The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has unveiled an exoskeleton designed specifically for children suffering from spinal muscular atrophy. It weighs about 26 pounds (12 Kg), maybe more than the child wearing it, and lets kids walk who may otherwise be completely unable to on their own.
The device is adjustable to fit different children, each leg having extendable rods that help align the joints on the device with the kids’ own and an automatic bracing system that adapts how strongly it grabs on. A battery that should last up to five hours powers the joint motors and a set of sensors helps to regulate the motion of the legs.
Because kids with spinal muscular atrophy will often produce unexpected movements, the device compensates for that and makes appropriate adjustments.
Besides giving kids with the disease more power and independence at walking, the hope is that the technology will help alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease that arise from a lack of movement.
Here’s a video showing off the new exoskeleton:
(hat tip: Popular Mechanics)