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Restore Exosuit Could Help MS Patients Improve Their Walking Ability, Study Reports

August 10, 2017

In the past we have blogged that exoskeleton suits have helped MS patients walk. Now, an exoskeleton developed by Harvard University researchers could restore multiple sclerosis patients’ balance and some of their walking capability, according to a study.

ReWalk Robotics is moving toward commercializing the system, developed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. In addition to MS patients, the exosuit should help people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative conditions, researchers said.

In contrast with commonly used passive devices, such as canes and braces, which only provide balance assistance, the Restore system plays an active role by helping muscles move.

The exoskeleton uses mechanics and software to deliver supportive force to key joints. The system’s components are connected to a wearable fabric that can be attached to the legs and feet. That’s why its developers refer to it as a “soft suit.”

Wyss Institute and Boston University researchers studied the system’s use in patients with lower limb disabilities who were recovering from a stroke. The research, “A soft robotic exosuit improves walking in patients after stroke,” was published in Science Translational Medicine.

The study covered nine stroke patients who wore the Restore system during walking and treadmill exercises. The exoskeleton reduced the energy necessary for patients to walk by 10 percent, researchers reported.