ReWalk Training Center (Exoskeletons)
ReWalk is a robotic exoskeleton worn by the patient. It is equipped with sensors and motors that drive the movement of the hips and knees. It allows the ability to move the legs when ambulation has been lost as a result of spinal cord injury. It is used in combination with conventional crutches. ReWalk is not intended to replace the wheelchair, but will allow several upright posture hours a day and the ability to walk independently again.
Advantages of the Exoskeleton
Movement – ReWalk is useful to obtain greater freedom of movement in the both the home and outside, on level ground. Users generally are able to walk at half the normal speed of a non-disabled person (two kilometers per hour).
Physical Conditioning – The benefits of an exoskeleton are not limited to walking. Simply being upright brings major benefits from a general physical point of view. The human body is designed to stand upright and this positioning supports heart activity and blood circulation as well as improving intestinal and sphincter functionality. The rhythmic stimulation of the neuromotor system of the lower limbs - another effect of the use of the exoskeleton – activates circuits not connected to the brain due to injury as well as supporting the maintenance of muscle tone while reducing the risk of secondary complications such as spasticity and joint and clonus deformations.
Training in the use of the Exoskeleton
The training in the use of the exoskeleton ReWalk ranges from a minimum of four to a maximum of eight weeks. The first session is used to adjust the configuration of the exoskeleton to the user's unique physical characteristics. After three sessions the person can already start to ambulate for a few minutes. The duration and distance of walking then increases progressively, from indoor exercise to walking outside along sidewalks. The exercises are individualized and are supervised by trained Santa Lucia Foundation staff. The goal is to first return balance and equilibrium to the user and then increasingly the user takes control of the exoskeleton to allow broader free movement.
Acquiring your own Exoskeleton
The training at the ReWalk Training Center is facilitated with exoskeletons owned by the Santa Lucia Foundation. For daily use at the end of the training, the user is responsible for acquiring their own personal exoskeleton. For information and contacts, the company Atid is available as the licensed distributor of the ReWalk exoskeleton.
Training Modules and Cost
ReWalk exoskeleton instruction includes a test module and two training modules resulting in a certificate of achievement. Each module consists of several 90 minute sessions, distributed as follows: 30 minutes dedicated to the calibration of the exoskeleton and physiotherapy exercises, 60 minutes in the assisted use of the exoskeleton.
The Test Module consists of 3 sessions. After successful completion of this module, the user is able to put on and remove the exoskeleton, make manual adjustment to the joints, assume a standing position and return to the sitting position, maintain balance while standing still for at least 30 sec. and take at least three steps safely. The cost of the module is 300 Euro (VAT tax included).
The First Training Module (basic training) consists of 16 sessions. Upon successful completion of the module, the user will be able to walk ten meters at slow speed. Additionally, the user will acquire a general knowledge of the equipment, charging methods and troubleshooting procedures. The user will also be able to monitor their the pelvis and lower limbs, rotate safely in both directions, cross a threshold and stop and restart walking without losing equilibrium. The cost of the module is 2,000 Euro (VAT tax included).
The Second Training Module (advanced training) consists of 24 sessions. Upon successful completion of the module, the user will be able to walk ten meters at modest speed and walk a 110m test course in 6 minutes or less. Additionally the user will have the ability to walk in a number of real life environments on different terrains such as stairs, sidewalks and other gradients, reverse direction, move laterally, pass doors and other practical skills such as elevator use. Users will be able to sit and rise and even get upright after falling. The cost of the module is 3,000 Euros (VAT tax included).