The good news is that the Rewalk exoskeleton, a device that helps people with spinal cord injuries stand, walk, and even negotiate stairs, has been approved by the FDA for sale in the United States, according to Verge.
The bad news is that the first model costs about $70.0000.
Still, a device that gets people out of wheel chairs and walking around, giving them more access, is something that is without price. And hopefully as more and more people use the Rewalk and the technology proceeds apace, the price will start to drop.
The Rewalk can be used as part of a rehabilitation regime and as a personal substitute for a wheel chair for people with lower limb impairment who still have use of their hands, arms and shoulders. The exoskeleton has powered leg attachments, motion sensors, and a computer based control system powered by a battery pack. With two canes to maintain balance, the wearer is able to walk and stand pretty much as well as a person without disabilities.
The company that manufactures the Rewalk, Argo Medical Technologies of Israel, claims that the device has a number of medical benefits as well. These include:
- Effects on bone density
- Decrease in % body fat
- Improvements in cardiorespiratory function
- Improved bowel/bladder function
- Improved sitting posture
- Decreased pain
- Decreased spasticity
The Rewalk has been available in Israel and Europe for the past couple of years. The FDA spent a considerable amount of time approving the device, primarily because it is a first of its kind device. This included, "durability, hardware, software, and battery systems, along with clinical data from 30 participants." Argo was also required to "submit a post-market clinical study, detailing data on "adverse events" and the performance of its training programs."
It is unknown as of yet whether the Rewalk will be covered, either by private insurance under Obamacare, or by various government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.