ReWalk: One Step at a Time

By: Malka Katz  |  January 2, 2017
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ReWalk Robotics is a high-tech Israeli company whose motto is “More Than Walking”—and for a good reason. ReWalk is a groundbreaking company, creating the first wearable exoskeleton which paraplegics (people paralyzed from the waist down) can wear in order to walk again. Anyone who has seen videos of users wearing the ReWalk device can attest to its unbelievable, futuristic-like technology. While it seems like a fairly simple idea, to engineer such a device takes time, and this company has spent over 15 years updating their technology to ensure the best-quality product for their users around the globe.

The founder and brainchild of this company is Dr. Amit Goffer, who served as CEO of the company for over a decade and Chief Technology Officer and President of the company until 2015. The idea emerged after a tragic ATV accident Goffer experienced in 2001, leaving him permanently handicapped as a quadriplegic. At the time, he was already a successful inventor and entrepreneur of another company which he founded, Odin Medical Technologies. After such a life-changing accident, Goffer made it his mission to create an appliance through which he and others suffering from paralysis from the waist down, mainly from spinal cord injuries (SCIs), could actualize their dreams of walking again. Having prior expertise in the field of technology, Goffer capitalized on the idea and pioneered an entire new industry of robotics which had not been thoroughly explored until that point.

Until ReWalk, the main method for those suffering from SCIs was to rely on wheelchairs or motorized scooters to regain mobility and independence. The sophistication of ReWalk is that it is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion in order to help facilitate natural motion. The different motions it enables include standing upright, walking, turning, and ascending and descending stairs. While this still makes the user dependent on the ReWalk appliance, it provides the user with as close of a sense of walking as possible, by using his or her own two legs to mimic walking. Rewalk has two designs: ReWalk Personal, for everyday and personal use, and ReWalk Rehabilitation, for use in hospitals or rehabilitation centers for therapy.

While ReWalk has made unbelievable strides forward, there are still some obstacles. There is a hefty price tag attached, varying from $69,000 to $85,000. Additionally, ReWalk’s exoskeleton is no light weight: weighing in at 51 pounds, it may not be wearable for some who cannot carry that extra weight. That is why part of the process of using ReWalk involves training, for which there are many locations throughout the world.

Rewalk was the first exoskeleton in the US to receive FDA clearance. In 2011 the FDA approved ReWalk for hospital use, and in 2014, it received approval for home and public use as well. This speaks volumes as to how advanced the technology of Rewalk is, as this is a feat other companies have yet attempted to achieve.

There are currently over 1,000 ReWalkers around the world today who are benefitting from Rewalk Robotics. Anyone can check out the ReWalk website and watch the many testimonials of individuals whose lives have been transformed due to their newfound ability to walk. ReWalk gives their users an opportunity to forget their disability. Every one of these stories is inspiring, and reminds the viewer how truly transformative ReWalk is for the lives of their users. And it’s  all because one man chose to use his encounter with personal tragedy as an opportunity to help others.

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