FDA clears robotic legs for some paralyzed people

New leg braces can help some disabled people walk again

Andres Burgos, of Foxborough, Mass., top, runs toward Jordan Simpson, 14, of Berlin, Mass., legs only at left, and Jim Kane, of Mansfield, Mass., legs only at right, using a prosthetic leg during a running clinic for challenged athletes, in Cambridge, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. The clinic was run by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides equipment and training for amputees to participate in sports. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Andres Burgos, of Foxborough, Mass., top, runs toward Jordan Simpson, 14, of Berlin, Mass., legs only at left, and Jim Kane, of Mansfield, Mass., legs only at right, using a prosthetic leg during a running clinic for challenged athletes, in Cambridge, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. The clinic was run by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides equipment and training for amputees to participate in sports. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind set of robotic leg braces that can help some disabled people walk again.

The ReWalk system functions like an exoskeleton for people paralyzed from the waist down, allowing them to stand and walk with assistance from a caretaker.

The device consists of leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to subtle changes in upper-body movement and shifts in balance.

A harness around the patient’s waist and shoulders keeps the suit in place, and a backpack holds the computer and rechargeable battery. Crutches are used for stability.

ReWalk is intended for people who are disabled due to certain spinal cord injuries.

The device was developed by the founder of Israel-based Argo Medical Technologies, who was paralyzed in a 1997 car crash.

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