ReWalk Robotics debuts soft suit exoskeleton for stroke patients

The Restore soft suit exoskeleton is designed for stroke survivors, while the ReWalk exoskeleton enables people with spinal cord injury to stand upright and walk.

ReWalk Robotics, the maker of a battery-powered exoskeleton for people with spinal cord injury, introduced a soft suit exoskeleton designed for stroke survivors.

With motors at its hip and knee joints, the ReWalk device enables people with paraplegia to stand upright and walk. Its latest version, which is unavailable in the U.S., also allows users to climb up and down stairs. The user controls the exoskeleton by tilting his or her upper body forward. The system picks up this change via motion sensors and initiates the first step.

The soft suit exoskeleton, dubbed Restore, is designed to help stroke survivors, but the company is eyeing other indications, including patients with multiple sclerosis. Restore works similarly to ReWalk. It transmits power to major joints in the leg through cables that are connected to fabric-based pieces that attach to the legs and foot, according to a statement.

The prototype is complete, said CEO Larry Jasinski in the statement. The Israel-based company is working with Harvard’s Wyss Institute to get the device through clinical studies, regulatory submission and commercialization, according to the statement. It is expected to hit the market in 2018.

After going public in 2014, ReWalk struggled with bringing its product to consumers. The ReWalk exoskeleton had already nabbed FDA approval, but it came with a $71,000 price tag. The biggest challenge was getting reimbursement for the pricey device. But earlier this month, a court ruled that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida must cover the device for a plan member with spinal cord injury.