Having spent almost ten years in a wheelchair after a car crash left her paralysed below the chest, Sophie Morgan was finally able to stand on her feet and walk again. What got her out of the wheelchair was not some kind of groundbreaking therapy, but a robotic exoskeleton developed by the New Zealand-based company Rex Bionics.
Rex Personal is controlled by a joystick embedded in its armrests and, unlike the majority of alternatives available today, does not require crutches to keep balance. Although making the exoskeleton bulkier and slower, this feature, in fact, changes the experience entirely, since Sophie and other users now can use their hands to accomplish everyday activities without worrying about loosing stability. “Once I stand up, I want to be able to do things. I want to be able to enjoy the benefit of actually being standing,” explains Sophie.
Apart from the obvious improvements in quality of life, such as increased mobility, the very experience of getting out of the wheelchair entails a whole range of physiological and phycological benefits like the ability to be closer to people, to talk to them eye to eye and, of course, to hug them and be hugged.
You can also read this post to learn about another type of exoskeletons such as Rewalk from ARGO Medical Technologies.