ReWalk Robotics (NSDQ:RWLK) today released results from a study of a soft suit exoskeleton system designed to aid ambulatory stroke patients, touting that the system was able to facilitate normal walking ability in patients.
The study was authored by researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Boston University, and utilized a prototype that Marlborough, Mass.-based ReWalk Robotics plans to commercialize as the Restore system.
Results from the study were published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine.
The Restore system is designed to transmit power to key joints in the legs with cable technologies, powered by software and mechanics similar to those used in its ReWalk exoskeleton system for patients with spinal cord injuries. The cables are connect to fabric-based designs that attach to the leg and foot, and make it a ‘soft suit’.
“Exoskeletons are now a commercially available, disruptive technology that have changed the lives of many individuals in the paraplegic community. The ongoing research at the Wyss Institute on soft exosuits adds a new dimension to exoskeletons that can potentially meet the needs of individuals that have had a stroke, as well as for those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or people who have limitations in walking. The Restore is a unique lightweight design that can assist and constantly adjust in real time to the user’s needs on every step they take. The depth of this fundamental science is a meaningful element in applying research to the everyday needs of this patient community,” ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski said in a press release.
The seminal study included 9 study participants and aimed to explore immediate improvements in walking capability while wearing the Restore system. Results indicated that the system had the potential to provide gait assistance and training during walking.
The system contributed to an approximately 20% reduction in forward propulsion interlimb asymmetry and a 10% reduction in the energy cost of walking, according to the study, equivalent to an approximately 32% reduction in the metabolic burden associated with post-stroke walking.
“Relatively low assistance (~12% of biological torques) delivered with a lightweight and nonrestrictive exosuit was sufficient to facilitate more normal walking in ambulatory individuals after stroke,” study authors wrote.
ReWalk said it is working with the Wyss Institute to develop lightweight designs for clinical studies, as well as plans to pursue regulatory clearance and commercialization for the system on a global scale.
“This foundational study shows that soft wearable robots can have significant positive impact on gait functions in patients post-stroke, and it is the result of a translational-focused multidisciplinary team of engineers, designers, biomechanists, physical therapists and most importantly patients who volunteered for this study and gave valuable feedback that guided our research,” Harvard Biodesign Lab founder Conor Walsh of the Wyss Institute said in a prepared statement.
The Restore system’s initial application will be for stroke survivors, the company said, followed by multiple sclerosis patients and additional applications after.