We've seen exoskeletons before, but nothing quite like this one. The new brace, developed by Spanish researchers, will help children with spinal muscular atrophy. Image: CSIC
The 12kg device consists of long support rods and are adjusted to fit around a child's legs and torso. A series of motors mimic human muscles in the joints, endowing the patient with the required strength to stand upright and walk. A series of sensors, along with a movement controller and a five-hour battery, complete the system. The aluminium and titanium device can also be expanded and modified to accommodate children between the age of three and 14.
The device was developed by the Spanish National Research Council, and it does more than just help children walk (sometimes for the very first time); by getting them to move, the device will prevent the onset of scoliosis, which results from loss of agility. Spinal muscular atrophy is a degenerative illness that affects about one in 10,000 babies. Eventually, it's hoped that this pint-sized exoskeleton will move outside of hospital settings, and into the patients' homes.