Girl Uses Exoskeleton to Walk for First Time

This girl was able to stand for the first time in her life thanks to an exoskeleton. Here’s how they will change the lives of millions of people with disabilities.

Motorized armor that is entirely controlled by the brain

Meanwhile…Here are Tarli's first steps, a 10-year-old English girl who has had cerebral palsy since birth. It is the most common motor impairment in children. This neurological disorder affects 17 million people worldwide. It results from irreversible damage to the fetus’ or infant's brain. These injuries lead to a motor or even cognitive disability. And if Tarli can stand up for the first time, it is with the help of this custom-made orthosis that her family was able to offer her thanks to an online crowdfunding that raised nearly $2,100 dollars. An orthosis supports a limb that is present but not functional. This type of equipment assists many children with disabilities to help them move around without the use of a wheelchair. Thibault, a 28-year-old Frenchman, has been quadriplegic since an accident. All 4 of his limbs are paralyzed. He is the first man in the world to have tested this exoskeleton.

It is a sort of motorized armor that is entirely controlled by the brain. In this exoskeleton, Thibault can move his legs forward, bend his elbow or lift his shoulders. Movements he hadn't made since his accident. In order to move in the exoskeleton, I do exactly like you. Meaning that when you think about walking, you think about moving one leg in front of the other. It’s a device composed of 64 electrodes that is meant to be implanted in the skull, specifically in the patient's motor cortex. French researchers have been working on this prototype for ten years. In a few years' time, this type of robotic exoskeleton could be made available to everyone. Researchers are working on making this type of autonomous equipment accessible to all and without being connected to computers. According to the World Health Organization, 75 million people in the world need a wheelchair to get around.

In Mexico, Jesus Aviña is rediscovering autonomy five and a half years after an accident, thanks to another type of exoskeleton: Roki. It is equipped with motors on the knees and hips, controlled by a connected watch. And it was in 2016 when it started working for the first time, with a person affected by a spinal cord injury. Although Roki is one of the cheapest exoskeletons at the moment, the equipment still costs 21,000 dollars. The exoskeletal market is expected to explode in the coming years. The consulting firm Grand View Research estimates that it should reach $3.3 billion by 2025. Companies, as well as the military, could also benefit from these technological advances.