I recently became fascinated with the prospect of using exoskeletons for disabled individuals who cannot walk, or have chronic joint problems that keeps them wheelchair bound. The idea of having a device that can enable the disabled to walk again and get out of uncomfortable wheelchairs sounds like a wonderful idea to me. The exoskeletons were developed through NASA, who originally developed the devices to provide resistance training to astronauts. The devices were designed to help the astronauts work out their leg muscles while at the space station. It was discovered that by reversing the way the exoskeleton was designed to work, it could help individuals with certain disabilities walk again.
Currently only certain rehab facilities have access to these devices. Various versions of them are being developed through several mobility technology based companies. The cost is very prohibitive for the time being ($140,000 per device, with additional service fees), but it is hoped once mass manufacturing is in place they may be available at a much lower price to the general public. One such device, the Vanderbilt, is expected to be available to the public in 2014.
Learn more about these devices here: Exoskeletons for the Disabled
If you've had a chance to use one of these devices in rehab, please share your experience below!