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Paralyzed woman walks again with 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton

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February 19, 2014

A 3D printed robotic exoskeleton has enabled a woman paralyzed from the waist down to walk...

A 3D printed robotic exoskeleton has enabled a woman paralyzed from the waist down to walk again

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3D Systems, in collaboration with Ekso Bionics, has created a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that has restored the ability to walk in a woman paralyzed from the waist down. The Ekso-Suit was trialled and demonstrated by Amanda Boxtel, who was told by her doctor that she'd never walk again after a skiing accident in 1992.

Robotic exoskeletons were once the stuff of sci-fi movies, bestowing their wearers with superhuman strength and speed. Though organizations like DARPA and Lockheed have been developing exoskeletons with human-enhancing military uses in mind, the technology has also proved of great benefit to the medical profession.

ReWalk has provided powered exoskeletons for individuals with spinal cord injuries since 2011 and the EU-funded Mindwalker project has developed a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton. In 2012, a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer was used to create a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that enabled a young girl to move freely for the first time.

Boxtel's Ekso-Suit was created by first scanning her thighs, shins and spine to create a model from which the basic personalized exoskeleton could be 3D-printed. Ekso Bionics then provided mechanical actuators and controls that were integrated with the printed components. Boxtel demonstrated the hybrid exoskeleton at a Singularity University event in Budapest, Hungary.

"This project represents the triumph of human creativity and technology that converged to restore my authentic functionality in a stunningly beautiful, fashionable and organic design," says Boxtel.

The video below shows the Ekso-Suit in action.

Source: 3D Systems

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts
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3 Comments

I'm sorry actor/activist Christopher Reeve is not with us to finally be able to stand as he believed he would. He left too soon.

In a few more years we'll be able to run and do cartwheels...maybe. ;)

Dan Lewis
20th February, 2014 @ 09:38 am PST

I was told that I will never walk again after my spinal injury! That was in February 1997 and they were wrong.

I took my first steps again 6 month later on parallel bars and using same sort of callipers as Forrest Gump.

It has been a slow recovery and I am still getting better after 17 years!

Now use two canes or my 3-wheeled scootboard to do longer distance.

I hope to have some dancing lessons soon as I miss dancing tango ;)

Kääriäinen Heikki Haykey
20th February, 2014 @ 05:16 pm PST

What a fantastic story.

More strength to their arm to make better tools and devices that everyone can benefit from.

Well Done

MickMac

MickMac
23rd February, 2014 @ 04:40 pm PST
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