Photo by Ekso Bionics
What is the Ekso bionic exoskeleton?
Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is one of only 19 locations in the U.S. to have the Ekso bionic exoskeleton. Ekso is a portable, adjustable bionic exoskeleton designed to help patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness resulting from a spinal cord injury (SCI) or other neurologic condition to stand up and walk. The main goal of Ekso therapy is to improve your overall physical and emotional health. Ekso is not appropriate for all patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness but you can be assured that we will carefully evaluate your situation to see if you might be a candidate for therapy with Ekso.
- Ekso is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered bionic suit – or exoskeleton – that is strapped over the your clothing. The device transfers its 50 lb. load directly to the ground, so you don't bear the weight.
- As the patient, you provide the balance and proper body positioning, and Ekso helps you walk by providing the power to alternately put one foot in front of the other in what is called a reciprocal gait.
Click for: Ekso Interactive Microsite
Click for: How the Ekso Bionic Walker Works - Infographic
Dr. David Rosenblum, medical director of rehabilitation, explains how the Ekso works and how it can benefit patients.
How does the bionic exoskeleton work?
While you provide the balance and proper body positioning, your physical therapist uses the control pad to program the desired walking parameters, such as step length and speed, as well as control when the Ekso stands, sits, and takes a step. It is powered by two high-capacity lithium batteries which drive the hip and knee motors.
Variable Assist software has just been added to the Ekso. Variable Assist works by allowing individuals with any amount of lower extremity strength to contribute their own power -- from either leg -- to achieve walking over ground. Based on the therapeutic goals, therapists now have the option to assign a specific amount of power contribution to augment their patients’ efforts, or to allow the Ekso suit to dynamically adjust to their needs in real-time. This adds to the suit’s versatility in assisting individuals with hemiparesis due to stroke, incomplete spinal cord injury, or other neurological injuries or conditions to walk.
Who is it used for?
Ekso is for patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness who would like assistance to stand up and walk. You need arm function and adequate upper extremity strength to manage crutches or a walker as determined during the evaluation. If you can transfer independently from a wheelchair to a chair, are between 5’2” – 6’2” (150-190 cm) tall and weigh 220 lbs (100 kg) or less, you are most likely a candidate.
How is the physical therapist invovled?
The physical therapist (PT) operates the Ekso with a remote control. This allows the PT to teach you when to take a step, how to position your body for proper balance, and how to shift your weight in preparation to take another step. The PT also has the ability to modify Ekso’s walking pattern (i.e. step speed and length) as you progress.
How can I be evaluated?
Ekso is only available in Connecticut at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare at our Wallingford campus. To be eligible for Ekso you need to bring a medical release. Then, a comprehensive physical evaluation is done, which typically takes one hour. During this evaluation, a physical therapist examines key requirements for use including range of motion, muscle strength and spasticity.
Our Ekso patients
Mike longs to dance with his young daughters and to take a walk his wife. With the help of the exoskeleton he has taken the first steps toward these goals.
Kelly was injured 14 years ago and never dreamed she would stand again. The exoskeleton has helped her to stand and walk - more than she ever hoped possible.
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Call the Ekso Line at (203) 284-2835
Click for our Ekso Interactive Microsite, How the Ekso Bionic Walker Works
You can help more patients experience the benefits of therapy with the Ekso bionic exoskeleton with a donation. Find out how on our Ekso Program and Step Up! Scholarships page.