How Exoskeletons Can Help People With Paraplegia Walk Again

The spinal cord is, quite literally, the central way in which the human body works. It is a key piece of the human puzzle, connecting the brain to the rest of the body via a massive network of nerves. The spinal cord can be damaged by multiple mechanisms including traumatic gunshot wounds, motor vehicle accidents, and falls, among others. When the spinal cord’s connection to the brain is interrupted due to a blood clot, that’s called a spinal cord stroke. A tumor or disease can also house itself in the spinal cord causing injury. All of these are serious. Spinal cord injuries, like those discussed above, can result in serious conditions for patients, such as paraplegia or other forms of paralysis. Patients with spinal cord injuries who experience paraplegia will have reduced limb function in their lower limbs. The terms tetraplegia and quadriplegia refer to someone who has paralysis in both their upper and lower limbs. This may mean that these individuals may need to use a wheelchair or other aids to get around, pick things up, or carry out other limb functions.

With that being said, a spinal cord injury that results in paraplegia or quadriplegia isn’t the end of the road—not by a long shot. First, with an increasing awareness of ableism in society, options are being opened up to people who use wheelchairs every day. Activists fighting for people with spinal cord injuries are making waves when it comes to awareness and legislation, and it’s easier than ever to avoid discrimination in the workplace and other places.

Alongside these societal advances, there are also innovations in medical treatment and physical therapy geared towards those with paraplegia or quadriplegia. Read on to learn about these advances and how they can aid in treating a serious spinal cord injury.

Lower Limb Exoskeleton

Let’s talk about exoskeletons. Ekso Bionics has pioneered a “wearable robot” in the form of an exoskeleton that someone with a spinal cord injury can wear over their torso and lower limbs. This exoskeleton is worn like a backpack that extends onto their legs and is paired with sensors throughout the device and within the footplates that the patient stands on. These sensors help Ekso to know whether a leg is meant to be stood on or swinging in the current moment and creates a reciprocal walking motion that the patient contributes to in amounts depending on their level of injury. This helps the wearer regain muscle activity and, therefore, use of their lower limbs.

The impact of this on people with disabilities trying to regain muscle activity in their hips, thighs, and lower legs is incredible. A recent clinical trial, published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, found that between 62 and 72 percent of wearers who used the exoskeleton robot system while practicing physical therapy exercises could achieve their walking goals within just 12 sessions. After 36 sessions, the number spiked—between 80-84 percent of participants with disabilities achieved their walking goals. Consider how optimistic a patient with a spinal cord injury must feel when they regain muscle activity in limbs they never thought they could use again. Exoskeleton robots can help improve standing positions, gait, correct weight shift, and help people with paraplegia learn to use their knee joints, ankle joints, and core strength together to walk again.

Upper Limb Exoskeleton

Exoskeletons are also relevant for the treatment of those who have quadriplegia or upper extremity weakness or paralysis. In this case, the exoskeleton is worn over the arms, with a joint at the elbow and shoulder, and the wearer can practice activities of daily living and build up their endurance. One risk factor for strengthening muscle activity and rebuilding someone’s endurance is that the patient may be compensating for their impairment with another muscle group, thus increasing risk for an overuse injury. This is a risk factor for any paralysis or lowered muscle function, whether in the legs, arms, or other muscle groups.

This is also why an exoskeleton paired with smart software is such a great innovation when it comes to assistive devices. A cane or crutches, for example, can’t tell clinicians when their patient is putting too much pressure on one side of the body due to fatigue, and, likewise, clinicians can’t know if the elbow is being overused during everyday activities in real-time. The exoskeleton system provides precisely that information to clinicians. Arm injuries can be just as complex as lower limb injuries, but the exoskeleton technology is up to the challenge. Being lightweight and allowing clinicians to alter the joint angle according to the needs of a specific exercise allows patients to work on the full range of motion they’re looking to improve.

Paraplegia and quadriplegia are not outliers in the population of the United States. In fact, approximately 5.4 million people in the U.S. live with some form of paralysis. With such a high number of Americans living with the effects of paralysis, it’s good to know that innovative rehabilitation devices are on the rise.

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Exoskeletons and robots may sound as though they belong in a sci-fi film, but they don’t. Exoskeletons belong right here, among the millions of people experiencing the effects of neurological and physical injuries leading to weakness and paralysis. To learn more about the newest exosuit technology and how they can help your application, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

How Exoskeletons Are Changing The Construction Industry

Exoskeletons are a form of wearable technology that are equipped with motorized joints that provide support with posture, weight distribution, and can even provide lift support to cut down on strains and other bodily injuries. Sometimes called exosuits, this robotic technology has seen widespread use in a variety of categories in the U.S. Ekso Bionics, the world leader in these wearables, first started creating products with HULC. This was developed for military purposes and was a backpack of sorts that allowed soldiers to carry larger loads over longer distances. Today, their exoskeleton products are used in many fields, including physical therapy and other health applications, but they’re most commonly being used in the construction industry and manufacturing for their industrial applications.

The main reasons why construction workers use exoskeletons are to prevent fatigue, boost productivity that would otherwise be lost to fatigue, and prevent injuries from repetitive strain or overexertion. Believers in industrial exoskeletons are calling them the future of construction, and it isn’t hard to see why. Here are a few examples of the types of exoskeletons being used on construction sites and manufacturing floors and how they help industrial workers.


This was Ekso’s debut product for industrial workers, boasting the tagline “power without pain.” While exoskeleton suits have long been part of the pop culture zeitgeist thanks to their popularity in science fiction, this was one of the first products to turn them into reality in the minds of users. This robotic system model was initially used by industry leaders like Ford on manufacturing floors.

This early incarnation was an upper-body industrial exoskeleton meant primarily to support the wearer’s arms and shoulders. Its lightweight design meant that it could be worn comfortably, and it had no electronic elements, so there was never any need to charge a battery. The back of the device had a metal spine that connected to head support, and it would wrap around the chest. Spring-loaded arm supports extended from the spine and would help with repetitive tasks and overhead work reaching full shoulder height. Ekso’s overall goal is less about boosting the strength of workers and more about preventing injuries. Exoskeleton technology also includes bionic legs, made by several different companies, but these typically have electronic components. Naturally, Ekso’s tools for construction workers and contractors on manufacturing plants have continued to improve over the years.

Power Gloves

Arm and shoulder supports are just a couple of the goals for construction exoskeletons. There are many different kinds of wearable robots that can provide support to the entire body or specific parts. A power glove is just one example. These gloves are soft exoskeletons designed specifically for the hand. They won’t give workers the impossible grip strength of the Hulk, but they do support workers during grip-intensive and repetitive tasks, helping to improve worker safety and save more energy by the end of the workday.

Workers can use the backpack to adjust the grip and force applied to each finger as the glove mimics natural human movement to improve strength and dexterity. As an extremely lightweight and portable wearable system, construction workers and architects in the building industry can use the gloves in practically any environment to improve occupational safety.


This is a robotic arm that’s primarily designed to hold heavy tools and assist with jobs on aerial platforms and scaffolding. The device can be mounted virtually anywhere in under a minute and is able to use spring loading to transfer the weight of heavy tools to its base and then to the ground. This allows for much easier work from repairs to demolition jobs and helps workers avoid strain and injury from lifting heavy objects. As the name implies, the arm also improves efficiency by allowing workers to move these heavy objects as though they were weightless.

ZeroG also helps workers avoid wasting time looking for tools, and the arm will stay in the exact position where it was left. It’s compatible with tools weighing up to 42 pounds, and it helps eliminate small tasks such as balancing tools or working to precisely bring them closer to a work surface. It also helps to prevent the tangling of large power tool cords, and its ease of use can even help with worker retention.

Ekso EVO

While the Ekso Vest was undeniably a success, EVO includes the next stage of improvements made based on user feedback. The vest continues to use spring-loaded technology to assist with construction work, and it utilizes counterweights to take the stress off a specific part of the body at critical times. The shoulder connections have also been improved to have as few contact points as possible and to allow for the widest range of motion compared to any similar device on the market. Applications can even go beyond construction work and into avenues like food processing, logistics, and solar panel installation.

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There’s no doubt that technological advancements will continue to make exoskeleton suits even more impressive and integral to industrial work. There’s no need or reason to wait for a hypothetical sci-fi future, though. You and your workers can start taking advantage of great wearable exoskeleton models today. To learn more about the newest exosuit technology and how they can help your application, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

Medical Robot “Suits” that are Changing the World

Technology serves a lot of purposes in our increasingly advanced society. Robotics, artificial intelligence, and machinery are changing the landscape of manufacturing throughout multiple industries. One area where new robotics developments are making a meaningful difference is in the world of medicine. Medical exoskeleton technology is helping patients recovering from injury or illness in addition to those who are generally deconditioned. 

With new prototype developments, scientists and medical experts continue to experiment with wearable robotic exoskeletons that are light-weight and easy to wear. Whether your patients are dealing with joint pain, spinal cord injury, effects from a stroke or brain injury, or difficulty staying upright for long, there are ways to assist them with a medical exoskeleton. This new technology is revolutionizing recovery and changing the world as we know it. No longer are you stuck with crutches, a cane, or requiring a wheelchair; you can get up and move about your life as easily and independently as possible. That is just one of the many ways how these exoskeletons are changing the world.

How does it work?

As this new technology continues to be developed and improved, you may be wondering how a wearable robotic exoskeleton actually works. Essentially, scientists are creating wearable robotics that can attach to your extremities. You strap on exoskeletons and soft robotic suits around your limbs to help you increase your mobility and give new opportunities for those weakened body parts. Whether you are using these soft robotics or high-powered exoskeletons, the machinery acts as an aid and a guide to help your extremities, spine, joints, and other body parts to move beyond any physical disabilities with the help of this exterior power source.

Helping with Recovery

This technology is changing the world in so many different ways. One such area is in the world of recovery from injury or illness. Therapists can use wearable robotics as a tool to help with endurance for patients experiencing paralysis, broken bones, or strokes. Patients with a neurological illness or injury spend much of their time relearning to walk and take on body weight or other heavy loads.  Rehabilitative robotics are there to help. Through many different clinical studies, doctors, therapists, and scientists alike are working to restore every degree of freedom and a semblance of everyday life to these patients. No longer are physical disabilities a hindrance to living a full life. Treating patients with a medical exoskeleton can make all the difference in their recovery.

Increasing Workplace Efficiency

Rehabilitation centers and recovery from injury are only one area where exoskeletons are making a tremendous impact. You may be able to utilize this technology to help avoid any hazards in the future. Bringing exoskeleton technology into the workplace helps things run smoother and more efficiently. Many warehouse workers or jobs with a high demand for physical labor run the risk of injuring their employees or causing fatigue on the job.

A robotic exoskeleton can help these professionals operate with efficiency and ease. All you need to do is strap into the exoskeleton suit and let it do the work. This can help keep you in a standing position for many hours on the job, eliminate fatigue as you have help performing your repetitive motions, and assist with productivity because of an externally powered exoskeleton. These advancements in research labs across the country can help manufacturers create a more comfortable, enjoyable work environment for all their employees.

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To learn more about the newest exosuit technology and how they can help your application, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

How Do Exoskeletons Work?

Exoskeletons, sometimes called exosuits, should be familiar in concept to most people thanks to their popularity in science fiction. These are essentially wearable robots that enhance the abilities of the person wearing them. While they won’t give people anything close to superpowers like they do in the movies, they can help improve strength, reduce fatigue, prevent injuries, and more. Currently, the use of exoskeletons has many applications for improving human performance in industries like the military, construction, and physical therapy.

Among the first exoskeletons on the market was the HULC model, created by the world leader in exosuit technology, Ekso Bionics. This was a hydraulics powered suit made for military use that offered leg support and acted as a backpack of sorts so that human operators could carry heavy objects over greater distances and at higher speeds. While the suit was promising in concept, it did restrict some movements and could result in additional stress on muscles. Today, there are many different, and much improved, exoskeleton models. Here are some of the best examples and how they work.

Upper Body Exosuits

The industrial exoskeleton sector is generally the most active today since wearables for the support of upper extremities are becoming so common in the construction industry as well as manufacturing. The main goal for industrial exoskeletons isn’t to give workers “super strength” or anything of that sort but rather to prevent workplace injuries. Strain due to overexertion and injuries caused by repetitive tasks are some of the most common culprits behind lost productivity in industrial settings. Of course, physical stress caused by worker fatigue also leads to lost time and makes injuries more likely to occur. Industrial exoskeletons seek to decrease fatigue, support muscle activity, support joints, and reduce discomfort while performing repetitive overhead work to increase occupational safety.

Upper bodysuits are typically made of a metal frame that wraps around the user’s chest. A metal rod positioned at the spine branches out into supports for the shoulders, arms, and hands as well. These suits are generally not powered, meaning that they provide support using pulleys, a spring balancer, weights to counterbalance the workload, or other purely mechanical means. These systems generally take the weight off the user’s shoulders and arms and transfer it to their cores so that they have increased endurance during overhead tasks and other demanding work. Since these wearables aren’t powered and typically just provide support without the wearer having to interact much with them, each model is sometimes called a passive exoskeleton.

A great example is the EVO exoskeleton created by Ekso Bionics. This is an evolution of Ekso’s vest exoskeleton technology used by Ford and other industry leaders. This model was created using the feedback from business leaders and industrial workers to address the challenges of workers as well as possible and to prevent workplace injuries and strain. This model also allows for the full flexibility of the shoulders and waist to provide the best comfort on the market.

Zero-Gravity Arms

Another great industrial application of exoskeletons is the zero gravity skeletal arm. This is a device used to lift and hold heavy tools of up to 42 lbs. This industrial robot, EksoZeroG, is great for holding large power tools like grinders, drills, and many more. The tool balancer can be mounted almost anywhere in under a minute, and it’s primarily used for aerial jobs and on scaffolding. The zero gravity tool holder can also, as the name implies, let workers move tools around as if they were weightless.

The Ekso Bionics Aerial System eliminates the dangers of dropping heavy tools from great heights at construction sites while also eliminating dangerous physical stress and muscle fatigue. It’s a simple spring-loaded arm that’s able to transfer the weight of payloads to its base and then to the ground. As a purely mechanical solution, there’s no need to worry about power or batteries.

Lower Body Exoskeletons

Lower body exosuits are generally used for locomotive assistance and gait training and are often used in physical therapy to help patients relearn how to walk or to improve their overall walking ability. One of the most well-known applications of these exoskeletons is their use for patients with paraplegia who suffered from a spinal cord injury. Powered exoskeletons can help patients carry their own weight and start walking again. Motor support can range from full assistance to patient-initiated movement or even with the addition of resistance depending on their needs, and medical professionals receive constant feedback from the devices.

These tools are excellent for gait training patients who have experienced strokes and have difficulty maintaining their balance. Patients who experience “pushing syndrome,” a disorder that leads to an imbalance in posture can use these devices to walk with a weight shifting mode that promotes neuroplasticity and can help correct the condition. Lower body devices also help to reduce patient discomfort and fatigue, so medical professionals are able to make the most of each session.

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These are just a few of the modern applications of exoskeleton technology. There’s little doubt that, as technology progresses, human abilities will be enhanced even further, perhaps even bringing ideas from science fiction into reality. To learn more about the newest exosuit technology and how they can help your application, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

Ekso Bionics and Stroke Rehabilitation

Having a stroke is a serious matter and can result in a major shift in your quality of life. A stroke occurs when something interferes with the blood supply to your brain —a blood clot blocking blood flow (and, therefore, oxygen) to the brain or a blood vessel rupturing. As a result of this pause in blood flow, certain brain areas can find themselves starved of oxygen, and cells can start to die rapidly. This is why, if you notice someone with slurred speech, stumbling, or unable to raise both arms to an equal height, it’s imperative to call 911 immediately. The longer a person’s brain is without oxygen, the more functions that will be impacted.

With all that being said, stroke recovery (either partial or full) is possible, a mainstay of modern medical treatment. With over 795,000 Americans suffering a stroke each year, physical therapists are familiar with the various impacts a stroke can have on a patient, whether the stroke they’ve suffered is ischemic, hemorrhagic, or a TIA (transient ischemic attack). Most patients are, in fact, referred to physical therapy in order to address deficits resulting from the stroke. These symptoms encompass a wide range depending on how long the brain was deprived of oxygen. Patients may experience everything from limb function impairment to paralysis that necessitates a wheelchair. Whatever symptoms a patient is experiencing, it’s exciting to know that there are advances being made in physical therapy technology and stroke recovery every day.

Handling Fatigue and Building Endurance

Fatigue is a common issue during stroke recovery. One of the reasons people recovering from a stroke can have fatigue is because, a stroke’s effects are applied to a patient’s limbs or muscle groups asymmetrically, causing them to walk unevenly or otherwise compensate for a muscular or sensory deficit with other muscle groups. It’s far harder to carry your body’s entire weight on one leg, for example, which is why many people who have had a stroke experience fatigue.

Beyond the simple exhaustion of uneven weight carriage, though, it can also be dangerous to compensate in this way. Patients can injure themselves by putting too much pressure on areas of the body that aren’t built for it. This is why it’s important to begin intervention and treatment by a physical therapist with advanced tools before a patient gets too accustomed to using their body in a way that will cause further injury. One such tool is an exoskeleton, which can provide relief and extra support to a limb that needs it. Exoskeletons aren’t like the prosthetics you may imagine – the kind that replaces limbs lost by amputees. Instead, the exoskeleton is worn on a limb and has motors at the hip and knee that automatically turn down or increase the assistance of the device in relation to a patient’s current capabilities. This allows patients to exercise their weaker side without overdoing it. By using these “wearable robots”, a therapist can help build up walking ability and endurance, for example, and achieve a functional outcome tailored to the specific type of injury that a diagnostic team has identified during their assessment. Increased motor control leads to increased quality of life, and that can go a long way towards recovery.

Spinal Cord Stroke

In some cases, a blood clot or other obstruction will cut off blood flow to the spinal cord instead of to the brain, causing the spinal cord to be without oxygen. This is called a spinal cord stroke, and it is just as dangerous as ischemic, hemorrhagic, or TIA strokes. The longer the spinal cord lacks a connection to the brainstem and the rest of the body, the more likely it is that a patient will see the onset of paralysis.

Clinicians will usually diagnose a spinal cord stroke by administering an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to understand exactly where the issue is along the spinal cord and the most effective treatment plan. Here, a bionic leg or other exoskeleton devices, such as EksoNR which has been pioneered by Ekso Bionics, can be useful in regaining some of the functions that may have been lost when the spinal cord stroke occurred.

Having a stroke doesn’t have to be the end of life as you’ve known it, even if you find yourself with a disability or impairment. Clinicians are very positive about the potential impacts that the bionic “wearable robot” Ekso Bionics offers can make when it comes to patient care and intervention. Even though it may seem like a long haul towards increased motor control and even walking again, the truth is that it may be closer than you believe it to be. The very human capacity to overcome and innovate is leading the charge towards increased recovery. Across the U.S., physical therapists are already using robotics and equipment to advance functional abilities.

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Who knows what tomorrow will bring? With these kinds of advances in medical technology, it’s an exciting time to be working in stroke recovery. To learn more about the newest knowledge afforded by exosuits and how they can help, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

How Strong Is An Exoskeleton?

Exoskeleton technology refers to wearable devices that can enhance the wearer’s abilities. This may include giving the user enhanced strength, reducing user fatigue, or even helping users regain abilities lost due to spinal cord injuries (SCI), strokes, or traumatic brain injuries. The devices may be fully powered exoskeletons with the ability to move for the user, or they may simply assist with user-initiated movements. Some exoskeletons have sensors that can help monitor the user’s movements to improve safety and provide relevant information to healthcare professionals on how well the patient is progressing. Wearable robotic exoskeletons have a wide variety of uses for military applications, the construction industry, healthcare, and more.

There have been many advancements in wearable robotics since the early days. The first exoskeleton developed and used by Ekso Bionics, the world leader in exoskeletons, was the Human Universal Load Carrier. The HULC model was made for military use. The unit provided leg support and functioned as a backpack of sorts that allowed soldiers to carry heavy loads of up to 200 lbs across great distances and at higher speeds of up to 10 mph. Unfortunately, HULC couldn’t be considered a success overall because it impeded some movements, and it could even lead to greater muscle strain, which is the exact opposite of what an exoskeleton should do.

With many more models available today that are being used across multiple industries, you may be wondering how strong an exoskeleton really is. This simplest answer is that it just depends on the model and what it’s being used for. Here are some of the more commonly used robotic exoskeletons, what they’re used for, and how much they can support.

Rehabilitative Devices

One of the most exciting uses for wearable robots is in clinical settings where they’re used to help patients with neurological disorders and physical disabilities. One example could be rehabilitation robot technology that helps a patient with paraplegia brought on by a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury to walk again. They can also be used to help patients who have had a stroke with gait training to regain their original gait and help them improve their balance and posture. They can help the rehabilitation process of patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries as well. Generally speaking, robots used for these purposes are strong enough to perform all of a patient’s movements for them if necessary, and they also have to be strong enough to support each patient’s full weight, up to 250lbs for some exoskeletons.

Ekso’s latest medical exoskeleton for neurorehabilitation, the EksoNR, is a great example of one of these robots. This is the first exoskeleton to be cleared by the FDA for treatments involving strokes, acquired brain injuries, and SCI. This powered exoskeleton robot assists patients with recovering their natural gait by promoting neuroplasticity and targeting intensity, thus teaching patients’ brains and muscles to work together to walk again. This device may help wheelchair users transition to crutches or a cane and assist those patients from using an assistive device to eventually walking under their own power.

This device provides full support to the spine and lower extremities while also helping patients maintain good posture. Like most exoskeletons, the device wraps around the patient’s chest and waist while using a torso pad and rigid back to support the spine. This particular device also provides full support to the hips, thighs, knee joints, and ankle joints. The robotic device can then perform the full movements of the patient’s lower limbs if needed, or it can assist with patient-initiated movement. Naturally, the exoskeleton is strong enough to support each patient’s own weight, up to 220lbs.

This exoskeleton robot also features pre-gait exercise programs to allow users to practice stepping in place, squatting, shifting their weight, and other exercises before they begin each session. Patients can take their time adapting from a wheelchair to the assistive device, and sensors and data capture capabilities allow for easy systematic reviews of progress in a clinical setting.  Once a patient has gained strength, balance, and coordination, they can begin working on advanced gait such as walking backward, side-stepping, and even walking with added resistance.

Industrial Devices

Exoskeletons also have many applications in industrial settings, especially for construction and manufacturing. Upper body exoskeletons allow workers to lift heavier loads, perform repetitive overhead tasks, and maintain demanding positions all with greatly reduced fatigue and discomfort. Even better, these systems are lightweight and can improve human performance and workplace safety without irritating the user’s body.

Jointed exosuits, like the FORTIS exoskeleton, are robot suits that provide support to the human operator’s entire body. This type of power suit is great for workers who have to carry and use heavy tools (of up to 36 lbs) since it’s able to transfer the weight to the frame of the exoskeleton and then to the ground. This greatly increases the worker’s endurance and prevents unnecessary strain on muscles and joints.

Ekso even makes a zero-gravity tool holder that can support large and heavy tools of up to 42 lbs. The device can be mounted almost anywhere and is particularly useful for jobs on scaffolding and other elevated areas. It works similarly to the FORTIS exoskeleton in that it transfers the weight of the tool to its base and the ground. As the Zero-G name implies, it also allows workers to move these tools weightlessly. The number one goal of industrial exoskeletons is to prevent workplace injuries, and these tools do an excellent job.

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Further research and exploration will no doubt uncover even more uses for exosuits, and we’ll begin to see ones that can carry even heavier loads. Perhaps one day, the super-strength granting exosuits seen in pop culture will step from fiction into reality. To learn more about the newst knowledge afforded by exosuits and how they can help, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

Exoskeletons and Neurorehabilitation

When you think of an exoskeleton, you probably think about sci-fi films and advanced technology. While sci-fi makes this technology seem unrealistic, the truth is that exoskeletons are highly useful for treating traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and is available for patients in the United States.

Of course, there’s more to the use of exoskeletons than you might think. From physical therapy to community and personal use with some devices, exoskeletons may well be the future of care for rehabilitation.

Exoskeletons aid cognitive rehabilitation.

Many hospitals and care facilities continue to express interest in exoskeleton technology for inpatient rehabilitation programs. As rehabilitation research expands, the value of an exoskeleton increases for treating patients with brain injuries and strokes. Occupational therapists who work with patients with severe TBIs and individuals with other disabilities rely on robotic exoskeleton technology to aid neuroplasticity and cognitive rehabilitation efforts. However, it’s important to note that the use of exoskeleton technology in rehabilitation services is fairly new. As such, only time can uncover the added benefits of exoskeleton use.

Researchers believe that there may be exoskeleton uses that benefit cardiovascular health for patients with TBI and stroke. Exoskeletons also reduce the risk of falls during rehabilitation and allow for significantly more steps than traditional gait training. Even patients with TBI with limited leg function may use a robotic exoskeleton to ambulate more effectively. This benefits the general activities of daily living, especially during acute rehabilitation, and allows for more physical activity.

Case Study: Various Exoskeleton Applications

During the rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injuries, a clinician, physical therapist, or physiatrist may utilize an exoskeleton device to aid the recovery process. Powered exoskeletons also have applications in the military, industrial, and even consumer markets. Though powered exoskeletons may be most commonly used during the acute rehabilitation of a severe traumatic brain injury, healthcare professionals often see exoskeleton usage across the continuum.

In acute rehabilitation, exoskeleton use commonly follows a set procedure. To start, the exoskeleton is often placed into a mode where the exoskeleton does the majority of work. This means that the exoskeleton does the majority of work for patients after TBI. The exoskeleton works with the user’s body in this phase and gives them time to adjust to how the exoskeleton moves and operates. In some cases, this is referred to as gait training. Quite simply, it improves the patient’s gait as they use the exoskeleton. After the patient has learned how the exoskeleton moves, the mode is changed, allowing the patient to be more active while still receiving assistance from the device as needed.

Adaptive assist mode allows patients to use as little power as they’re able. This will vary depending on the patient’s physical disability and the goals of their rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of the injury, the robotic exoskeleton might act like a fully supportive assistive device during rehabilitation.

During these steps, closely monitoring and tracking goals remains important. With exoskeleton data, it’s easier to track outcome measures such as limb and motor function, the overall rehabilitation progress, and whether the intervention or ongoing adjustments are required. While some medical professionals use exoskeletons to improve cognitive function, it often requires a multidisciplinary team to make the best use of this rapidly growing technology.

Contact Ekso Bionics

To learn more about the new knowledge afforded by this medical device and how it can help patients overcome severe injuries, reach out to the Ekso Bionics team today.

How Exoskeletons Are Amplifying Productivity in Industries That Require Heavy Lifting

Nothing strains the body more than repetitive heavy lifting, especially overhead. Proper ergonomics in the industrial workplace is crucial, yet lifting heavy items remains one of the top causes of injury in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36 percent of injuries involving missed work days resulted in shoulder and back injuries. The biggest factors in these injuries? Cumulative trauma and overexertion.

Exoskeletons to the rescue! Exosuits designed to aid workers in the construction and industrial spaces can help tremendously when it comes to preventing these injuries in the first place, and easing pain and discomfort from existing injuries.

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs), such as strains and sprains, often result when one repeatedly lifts, carries or otherwise handles objects. The risk of injury is compounded when twisting bending, awkward postures and heavy loads are involved. Effective ergonomic controls can go a long way toward preventing or reducing the risk of injuries, as well as employing smart lifting practices and assistance through machinery (i.e., forklifts), but these practices only go so far.

Construction exoskeletons and industrial exoskeletons can further reduce the chances of a worker suffering from muscle pulls, back sprains, wrist and elbow injuries, and spinal injuries.

Industrial Exoskeletons: A Game Changer

While still in their relative infancy, predictions say by 2025, there will be 20,000 full-bodied exoskeletons working across a variety of industries, such as auto, aviation, maritime, construction, and logistics, according to EHS Today.

Exoskeletons are revolutionizing operations on the factory floor and on construction sites. And while many tasks can be automated, some – like complicated, repetitive tasks that require assistance from the human mind and body — just can’t be automated.

Due to this inherent automation, there will always be a need to have humans involved in the process of completing a task because they are more agile and have the ability to adapt.

Machine intelligence can only go so far. Robots and computers are great at highly repetitive duties that are part of an assembly line, but they can’t handle switching to different types of tasks at a moment’s notice. While they have the strength to do those tasks, they don’t have the human’s brain. Industrial exoskeletons, on the other hand, worn by humans, can go from lifting a pallet onto a truck one moment, to moving an engine block onto an assembly line the next.

Wearable exoskeleton devices have been known to reduce musculoskeletal loads that would not otherwise be helped by an engineering process change, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

A human can step inside an exosuit and move naturally using their own intuition, instincts and reflexes to control it. In essence, industrial exoskeletons take the best of both worlds – the intelligence of human operators, and the endurance and strength of robots – and combine them. They bridge the gap between extremes of tasks that demand repetitive motions by robots and fully manual work, points out The Robot Report.

Value Proposition: Improving Productivity in Heavy Lifting Environments

The advantages of construction exoskeletons and industrial exoskeletons are obvious and easily quantified, such as an increase in efficiency and an improvement in productivity. In many cases, exosuits eliminate the need for expensive, “full-on” automation solutions, plus they bring the potential to allow aging workers to continue performing labor-intensive tasks.

The primary advantage and key driver for adoption is to decrease how worker-related injuries occur with heavy lifting injuries, thereby lowering disability and healthcare costs. Improving worker health also extends to the reduction of employee turnover.

The biggest problem in the industrial workplace when it comes to repetitive tasks and heavy lifting, of course, is fatigue. When workers become fatigued, they can’t be as productive as they normally would be, plus costly mistakes are more likely to happen, not to mention safety risks. Fatigue threatens the output a company can achieve. By addressing this component with industrial exoskeletons, companies can achieve better growth, lower costs and better productivity on the plant floor.

Contact Ekso Bionics

Find out how Ekso Bionics can solve your heavy lifting issues in the construction and industrial space when you contact us at 510-984-1761.