Vancouver company reveals technology to help people walk again
A Vancouver company has made a huge leap in developing technology to help mobility-challenged people get around.
Human in Motion Robotics has spent years designing and developing an exoskeleton that has full range of motion to walk, climb stairs, sidestep and crouch, all while maintaining stability without tipping over.
Chloë Angus, who started using a wheelchair six years ago, has been testing it with the team that designed it.
"It feels amazing. I feel like myself again," she said while demonstrating the device for CTV News Vancouver. "Now I get to pick things up for my friends, not just my friends picking things up for me."
She had tried exoskeletons before but they were not as advanced and required crutches and assistance to remain upright.
"This final version, it has all the features and capabilities that we always wanted to have for having independent motion for users like Chloë," said Siamak Arzanpour, co-founder of Human in Motion Robotics Inc.
He started the project at Simon Fraser University, spinning it off to form Human in Motion Robotics. Now the company is ready to begin clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada. It hopes to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada to use the exoskeleton in rehabilitation clinics.
"Users are going to be able to move their joints independently," Arzanpour added.
He says being able to move around and get out of a wheelchair will help alleviate pressure sores and improve overall health.
The stabilizers in the exoskeleton will also allow its users to exercise their upper body, like throwing a ball without toppling over.
The next phase will be home use but it could be a few years away.
"If it was up to me, it'd be tomorrow," Angus said.
The exoskeleton will cost north of $100,000 but insurance could cover it for future home use, if it is determined to be medically necessary.