Friday, June 24, 2011

A Spring Based Exoskeleton For People With Arm Disabilties

In my last blog post, I wrote about a spring based lower extremity orthosis for people with mobility disorders. A few days later, I learned about a spring based product which may help people with disabilities of the arm.

Here you can see a video of the arm in action. In the last few frames you will see a person with a disability using the device:



Eric Golden, the president of Equipois was kind enough to do a brief interview about the X-Ar

Gene: How does it work (in non-technical language)?

Eric: We use a spring in a proprietary geometry to provide lift and provide lateral stabilization with a mix of spring tension and variable degrees of freedom.

Our spring architecture is something originally developed for a camera stabilization system called the Steadicam -- we partnered with the Steadicam's inventor, Garrett Brown. That invention (with our improvements) does an amazing job of creating a "zero gravity" effect, essentially compensating for the spring forces as the arm moves. For someone in a wheelchair, that means the ability to move his/her arms freely with a fraction of the exertion otherwise required.

Gene: What kind of wheelchair users do you expect it to be helpful for?

Eric: We have not defined specific diagnostic presentations for which X-Ar is suited since our initial launch targeted for able bodied persons doing repetitive tasks in a variety of environments and industries. However, we have every reason to expect that X-Ar will provide great quality of life improvements for broad range of disabilities and impairments for both wheel chair users and ambulatory users. Some of the potential patient groups we are investigating including brain injury, stroke, MS, and Muscular Dystrophy.

Gene: How much (ballpark) do you expect it to cost?

Eric: Single arm systems will cost around $3-4,000.

Gene: Will it be going into clinical trials?

Eric: Yes. We are talking to strategic partners (including universities and hospitals) to help facilitate this next stage of development.

Gene: When do you expect it to be launched?

Eric: We are taking orders now for the first version of the X-Ar. Production Models will be available in 6-8 weeks.

Gene: Who can people contact for more information?

Eric: Info "AT" equiposinc "DOT" com or www.x-ar.net.

Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

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