Parker Hannifin seals clinical test deal for exoskeleton device

Parker Hannifin's Indego device--courtesy of Parker Hannifin

The development of exoskeleton devices for patients with spinal cord or brain injuries takes an interesting step forward, with this week's announcement of Parker Hannifin's ($PH) clinical trial deal with a major rehab hospital.    

While neither side disclosed financial details, the Georgia-based Shepherd Center will become the major rehabilitation facility to pursue clinical testing for Parker Hannifin's Indego device. The deal also gives Shepherd the right to develop clinical protocols, train others who will be running trials at other locations and monitor those tests. Additionally, both Parker Hannifin and Shepherd will market the device once it obtains FDA approval--hoped for in 2014. Parker Hannifin says its robotic exoskeleton is unique because patients can wear the relatively light device while in their wheelchairs, a car or at a restaurant.

But Parker Hannifin is far from the only game in town. Ekso Bionics, similarly, has developed a self-contained robotic exoskeleton, and the California company is actively testing the suit at 15 rehab centers across the U.S. New Zealand's Rex Bionics is also testing its own robotic exoskeleton, a device that similarly allows a person to stand up, walk and go up and down stairs.

One crucial difference: Parker Hannifin is a goliath in industry compared to its other newer and smaller rivals. The 60,000-employee company booked more than $13 billion in sales in fiscal 2012 and also develops motion and control technologies for mobile, industrial and aerospace clients.

Plans call for testing Parker Hannifin's exoskeleton in patients who have spinal cord and brain injuries, but also those who suffer from strokes and multiple sclerosis.

- read the release

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