Principal Investigator: Josep Maria Font Llagunes
Project Reference: CI17-00009
Funding organization: CaixaImpulse Programme, La Caixa Foundation and Caixa Capital Risc, EIT Health
Duration: 07/2017 – 12/2018
Budget: 70 000 EUR
Project website: https://caixaimpulse.com/en/projects/-/caixaimpulse/project/ABLE
Collaboration with Institut Guttmann Neurorehabilitation Hospital
The main objective of the project is the valorisation of a low-cost robotic exoskeleton enabling people with spinal cord injury (SCI) to walk and participate in over-ground gait training. Specific objectives are its usability assessment in patients of Institut Guttmann, and exploring its transfer to the market via existing industrial companies or creating a spin-off. The current prototype consists of a knee-ankle-foot exoskeleton equipped with a motor at the knee, acting as an artificial muscle, and sensors. With this prototype, users unable to activate knee muscles due to the injury, and therefore using a wheelchair in their daily life, are able to walk with the help of crutches. Unlike most exoskeletons available in the market, which are complex, heavy, expensive, and not customized to the patient; the design approach of our device is based on using the maximum of standard orthopaedic components to reduce costs, and adding only the essential actuators and sensors to allow its functionality. This technology will be better accepted by end users, since it will be cheaper, lighter and more aesthetic. The use of the robotic exoskeleton promotes gait functional recovery by neural plasticity, and overall health by decreasing the risk of developing secondary complications and increasing subject’s self-esteem. Therefore, the proposed technology highly contributes to the improvement of the quality of life of patients with SCI and, consequently, to their social and labour integration.