FDA Approves Israeli 'Wearable Robot' That Helps Paraplegics Walk

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Errol Samuels, 22, from Queens, New York, who lost the use of his legs in 2012 after a roof collapsed onto him at a house party, walks with a ReWalk electric powered exoskeletal suit, March 2014. Credit: Reuters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a wearable support device produced by Yokne’am-based ReWalk Robotics that can help some people with spinal cord injuries to walk again.

ReWalk, a set of motorized leg braces that is sometimes described as a robotic exoskeleton, was approved in the United States for home use only.

The braces support the wearer’s legs and lower torso, while the motors provide movements to the knees, thighs and ankles, enabling some paraplegics to sit, stand and walk.

ReWalk Robotics, which also has headquarters in Marlborough, Massachusetts and in Berlin, was founded in 2001 as Argo Medical Technologies by Dr. Amit Goffer, who has been a paraplegic since an all-terrain vehicle accident in 1997. ReWalk, the device that has now secured FDA approval, got publicity from an unlikely direction in the United States. It was featured on the Fox television series “Glee” by the fictional character Artie Abrams, who in the series is wheelchair bound due to a spinal cord injury.

In March of this year it was reported that ReWalk Robotics has plans for an initial public offering in the United States later this year where it will attempt to raise $50 to $60 million at a company valuation of $230 million to $300 million. According to ReWalk Robotic’s website, its ReWalk device is available in the United States, Israel, Turkey, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Austria.

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