Exoskeletons Bring New Life To Immobile Seniors

Could new possibilities in technology and medicine transform life and capabilities for immobile seniors? In pursuit of what’s possible, let's take a look at a future that's already here.
A senior in an exosuit walks with doctor support

It’s a whole new world with fresh possibilities for people who were previously immobile. If you’ve been out of the loop for a while, you may be shocked and delighted to discover all the innovation that’s been going on.

I don’t know about you. But the idea of mechanical legs has always been intriguing. It never seemed right that smart, creative people couldn’t come up with a way to support the human body, and facilitate movement.

It turns out, this is true. Mechanical legs are real.

They also go by lots of different names:

  • Exoskeleton
  • Powered armor
  • Powered suit
  • Exoframe
  • Hardsuit
  • Exosuit

Just to name a few of the mechanical devises that allow for limb movement.

A powered exoskeleton may be something you’ve seen in a movie, or read about in a science fiction book. But, today—people are using them.

That’s right. Today.

Delay Retirement

One of the most exciting reports is that older folks in Japan are using exoskeletons to help them do their work. Instead of retiring, they are using these suits to lift weight easily, and actively perform physical requirements of their job.

A number of Japanese technology companies are building exoskeleton suits to enable aging workers to keep their positions and delay retirement. One of the companies that are building exoskeletons is Innophys. Their suit is somewhat similar to a backpack. It can be charged with a hand-pump to fill pressurized air-powered muscles.

Just imagine where this could come in handy.

  • Farmers could continue with the rigorous physical labor of their jobs.
  • Workers who need to lift packages could delay retirement.
  • Experienced professionals could extend their work years.

Many Japanese companies are working on similar solutions, intended to support an aging labor force. Among these are Panasonic, with an electric suit that can add 22 pounds of lifting force. Toyota is also doing research on a motorized exoskeleton to help their labor pool stay on longer.

People who were scheduled to retire are able to continue working, into their 70s. One person interviewed runs a family business, which makes and sells pickled radish. Heavy lifting is required. Innophys spokesperson Daigo Orihara told New Scientist of this client saying, “The father is in his 70s and was supposed to retire but is still working with our muscle suit.”

The Japanese exosuit is the world’s first to be awarded ISO certification for robots and robotic devises.

You may have been hearing about mechanical devices such as exosuits from other corners of the world.

An african american man wearing an exoskeleton suit picks up a heavy metal objects

Completing A Marathon

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Terry Hannigan Vereline made history as the first paralyzed American to successfully finish a marathon wearing a robotic exoskeleton. Vereline was able to use the ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton to complete a 26.2-mile distance.

In her press release, Vereline says, “Ever since the day I stood up in the ReWalk for the first time, opportunities I never thought I’d have again were laid out before me.”

Imagine going from being paralyzed to completing a marathon. It is breath-taking and inspiring. Vereline says, “I hope I can serve as an inspiration to others that you too can achieve what seems like the impossible—especially all the disabled children I meet across the country.”

Walking To ReEnable

With ReWalker, Adam Gorlitsky was able to walk for the first time, after being in a traumatic car accident. Although paralyzed from the waist down, he has completed 10-K foot races across the United States.

Gorlitsky is on a mission to make this technology affordable. He has shared his story in the media, documenting his journey of walking, and sharing the story of how Rewalk transformed his life.

Gorlitsky has started I Got Legs, an organization dedicated to ReEnabling athletes with physical challenges and supporting improvements to life changing technology.

He is not only transforming himself, he is inspiring everyone to reach beyond limits.

“When I am in my ReWalk robotic exoskeleton, I do not feel disabled, nor do I feel able-bodied; I feel ReEnabled.” — Adam Gorlitsky (Founder, CEO I Got Legs)

According to the I Got Legs website, disability impacts all of us.

Here are the statistics:

  • 44 billion in annual health care costs due to obesity related to disability
  • More than 61 million adults have a disability in the U.S.
  • More than 5 million people in the U.S. have a prevalence of paralysis
  • Almost 1 in 4 people will become disabled before reaching retirement age

Adam just set a new world record in the 10th annual Charleston Marathon. He shaved 3 hours off the Guinness Book of Records, completing the 26.2-mile route faster than anyone ever has in a robotic exoskeleton.

He is currently using his ReWalk robotic exoskeleton to walk one million steps within road races throughout the country.

Assistance Club Summary

Whether you’re looking to delay retirement, run a race, or inspire others to be ‘ReEnabled,’ exosuits offer a transformative solution.

If you or a loved one is experiencing disability, immobility, or paralysis…exoskeleton suits offer new hope and new life.