Bionic walking aid demonstrated in NI

Published Wednesday, 16 July 2014
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A bionic suit designed to help people with spinal injuries walk has been demonstrated for the first time in Northern Ireland.

The robot - called an Ekso Wearable Walking Exoskeleton - is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the treatment of patients with lower extremity weakness or paralysis.

It was developed in America at a cost of $70m and sells for up to €150,000.

The suit is battery-operated and powered by motors at the hip and knee joints, with all motion initiated through the use of an external controller.

It was demonstrated for the first time in Northern Ireland at an event on Wednesday.

The Health Minister Edwin Poots attended and was impressed by the technology, but with a constrained budget would not rule anything in or out.

The DUP minister said: "Innovation like this helps to drive our health service forward, improves the care we can offer to people who have challenging circumstances and places Northern Ireland at the forefront of research for long term wheelchair users.

"It highlights that with imagination and dedication, these new and innovative technologies can help to change someone's life for the better.

"While the device may not be suitable for everyone due to their specific health condition or the environment in which they potentially might use the device, it is a significant breakthrough."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Niall in Tyrone wrote (193 days ago):
For Gods shake Phil in Omagh do you really need to find a negative in a story like this? There are plenty of other pointless stories floating around this time of year for that. This type of technology advancement in exoskeletons is the future, less controversial than stem cell (which I am fully in favor off). With the right software/hardware advancements combine with durable light weight materials this could be a light at the end of the tunnel for many people. Nano tech is the next stage (very science fiction I accept)
Lisa in Larne wrote (193 days ago):
Amazing what can be done these days! Think of the joy this would bring to all those who thought they would never walk again.
phil in omagh wrote (193 days ago):
great. but who can afford 150,000
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