Paralyzed Skier Walks Again With Help From 3D-Printed Exoskeleton

Paralyzed Skier Walks Again With Help From 3D-Printed Exoskeleton

3D Systems and EksoBionics have created an exoskeleton suit that helped a paralyzed skier walk again for the first time since 1992.

In news that makes me excited at the future of robotics being used in the medical field, tech companies 3D Systems and EksoBionics have created an exoskeleton that allowed Amanda Boxtel to walk again since 1992. Boxtel, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident in '92, was said she'd never walk again by her doctors. But as you can see from the video, she proved them wrong. The exoskeleton featured is the first of its kind, and was custom-built for the former skier. Designers from 3D Systems scanned her full body, digitizing the contours of her spine, thighs, and shins to mold or 3D print the robotic exoskeleton suited to her frame. Once that's done, 3D Systems then collaborated with EksoBionics for the mechanical parts and controls and the finished product is what 3D Systems calls the first-ever "bespoke" exoskeleton.

Scott Summit, senior director for functional design at 3D Systems states, "We had to be very specific with the design so we never had 3D-printed parts bumping into bony prominences, which can lead to abrasions" and bruising. For Boxtel, bruising was a dilemma designers needed to overcome since a paralyzed person won't often know that bruising is happening because she won't be able to feel it, which is dangerous since undetected abrasions and bruises can lead to infections. "So we had to be very careful with creating geometry that would dodge the parts of the body that it had to dodge...[designing] parts that wouldn't impede circulation or cause bruising," Summit adds.

The process of creating the 3D-printed exoskeleton took three months to complete and is designed to attach to the body loosely with velcro straps for an adjustable fit."When the robot becomes the enabling device to take every step for the rest of your life, the connection between the body and the robot is everything. So our goal is to enhance the quality of that connection so the robot becomes more symbiotic," Summit states, pertaining to Boxtel and her robotic suit.

Needless to say, hearing news like these makes me excited at what other robotic advancements can be made to help people, and makes me think my foolish dreams of becoming RoboCop is just within reach -- minus the painful body mutilations and dismemberment, of course.

Source: CNET

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It would be cool if it was possible to connect the control circuit to the nerve system or create a BMI (brain-machine interface) that works over pads that read brain waves.

Anyway, this is a major step forward. I'd love to see exoskeletons replace wheelchairs in a not too distant future.

Oh my. This takes all of my post apocalyptic space marine love and intensifies it. I hope they invent mining suits like this, and I somehow get to fight an alien.

Chaosritter:
It would be cool if it was possible to connect the control circuit to the nerve system or create a BMI (brain-machine interface) that works over pads that read brain waves.

Anyway, this is a major step forward. I'd love to see exoskeletons replace wheelchairs in a not too distant future.

Same. Can't wait until people without limbs can have robotics as a replacement.

Flutterguy:
Oh my. This takes all of my post apocalyptic space marine love and intensifies it. I hope they invent mining suits like this, and I somehow get to fight an alien.

That's very close to reality, too. Have you seen this? http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/131918-Panasonic-Developing-Real-Life-Power-Loader-Like-the-One-In-Aliens

Alex Co:

Chaosritter:
It would be cool if it was possible to connect the control circuit to the nerve system or create a BMI (brain-machine interface) that works over pads that read brain waves.

Anyway, this is a major step forward. I'd love to see exoskeletons replace wheelchairs in a not too distant future.

Same. Can't wait until people without limbs can have robotics as a replacement.

cant wait to cut off my own hand and get a sweet ass robot hand

While this is clearly pretty amazing, it looks like only a small number of parts were actually printed out. Most of it looks like it would still need to be fabricated. I'm not trying to rain on any anyone's parade or anything, this is clearly still pretty damn amazing. Any step forward is a win when it comes to stuff like this. And I'm not even saying this is totally possible without 3D printing. Anything that puts fabrication in the hands of more people is going to make technological leaps and bounds happen. Fabrication is the one thing that holds back invention from a lot of people.

Does this mean she can jump chain-link fences with the *dididi* sound effect playing as she does?

I'm kind of confused as to how an exoskeleton is going to help someone move their legs when they're paralyzed. But I guess that's what the crutches are for.

Daaaah Whoosh:
I'm kind of confused as to how an exoskeleton is going to help someone move their legs when they're paralyzed. But I guess that's what the crutches are for.

Considering how precise the movements were, the exo appeared to be doing the actual walking.

How did they make parts before 3D printing? Molds?

Baresark:
While this is clearly pretty amazing, it looks like only a small number of parts were actually printed out. Most of it looks like it would still need to be fabricated. I'm not trying to rain on any anyone's parade or anything, this is clearly still pretty damn amazing. Any step forward is a win when it comes to stuff like this. And I'm not even saying this is totally possible without 3D printing. Anything that puts fabrication in the hands of more people is going to make technological leaps and bounds happen. Fabrication is the one thing that holds back invention from a lot of people.

If I'm reading the article correctly, they 3D printed the pieces that physically make contact with her skin, a.k.a. the pieces that would have to customized per individual, all the rest you could probably mass produce/not have to customize per person. This then gives a much more comfortable/healthy fit, as the article says, it lowers the threat of bruising. It seems like the current use for 3D printing at this level is to make precisely customized parts quickly since one-size-fits-all isn't possible and customized pieces done by conventional means would be very expensive, since you're only using the molds once. But yes the article title is rather misleading.

That video was painful, which is a shame, since what it was supposed to be about was quite impressive.

Chaosritter:
Anyway, this is a major step forward. I'd love to see exoskeletons replace wheelchairs in a not too distant future.

Nope...or at least, not totally. Someone has to pay for the things, a lot of people just won't be able to afford it.

Best part of that whole video is how the demonstrator just couldn't keep that sheer joy of walking again off her face. It's stuff like this that really warms my heart.

Right, I'm beginning to want a 3D printer more and more these days.

Chaosritter:

Anyway, this is a major step forward. I'd love to see exoskeletons replace wheelchairs in a not too distant future.

Damn straight. For those who have broken their legs, or are paralyzed, or never had the option in the first place, many thoughts are spared for the lack of mobility.

Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

ObsidianJones:
Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

Yes.

I'll have a Icarus Landing System™ + CASIE™ combo please. (Also Typhoon for when lines at the grocery store get too long.)

ObsidianJones:
Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

And whats so wrong about having deus Ex style body parts? i always believed that human body is very weak in comparison to robotics as shown in deus ex and many other fiction.

ObsidianJones:
Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

I don't think this has ever been more appropriate than right now.

wow. Nice. Triple post.

I'll go from serious to playful

Strazdas:

ObsidianJones:
Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

And whats so wrong about having deus Ex style body parts? i always believed that human body is very weak in comparison to robotics as shown in deus ex and many other fiction.

One word:

Neuropozyne.

Now, a real world concept: DRM.

The next step in the Darwin Arms Race will be equitable and fair? Not likely. I'm sure companies will do anything to make the machines work just well enough that everyone will want to have them, but so heavily dependent on maintenance or drugs to ease the pain or keep from rejection. Forget Religion or anything to enslave people's minds or wills. You will have control of people's very bodies.

With how the companies in charge run the world now? Most probable case scenario is Repo Men mixed with Nu-poz

sighs I never asked for this...

toms:

Yes.

I'll have a Icarus Landing System™ + CASIE™ combo please. (Also Typhoon for when lines at the grocery store get too long.)

Eh, they'll patch the people in front of you could just move to the other line... if your sneak is high enough :)

immortalfrieza:
I don't think this has ever been more appropriate than right now.

I'm not touching that unless it's drum and bass.

ObsidianJones:
Am I the only one freaked out that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quickly seeming to be an instruction manual to the future?

Really?

Why are you? The beautiful thing about DE:HR is that it keeps most of its' technology at a plausible level and even grounds it in reality by presenting current research into prosthetics and artificial limbs in the game in abridged formats (all those e-books? Many of them are based on what the cutting edge was back in 2011). One could easily take Human Revolution to be a vision of where we might be in 2030 in regards to artificial limbs if there are some major breakthroughs in the next few years.

As a nurse, it makes me a bit giddy to consider that I might have the chance to work with nursing specialized at artificial limbs in my lifetime... But that's just a sort of professional dream.

Excellent, a new leg for christmas!

ObsidianJones:

One word:

Neuropozyne.

Now, a real world concept: DRM.

The next step in the Darwin Arms Race will be equitable and fair? Not likely. I'm sure companies will do anything to make the machines work just well enough that everyone will want to have them, but so heavily dependent on maintenance or drugs to ease the pain or keep from rejection. Forget Religion or anything to enslave people's minds or wills. You will have control of people's very bodies.

With how the companies in charge run the world now? Most probable case scenario is Repo Men mixed with Nu-poz

sighs I never asked for this...

Fair point. Reality will certainly seem to go Repo Man way instead of happy implants for all way.
Damn capitalism.

FalloutJack:
Damn straight. For those who have broken their legs, or are paralyzed, or never had the option in the first place, many thoughts are spared for the lack of mobility.

I guess a custom exoskeleton for a broken leg is a bit of an overkill. These things take months to make and cost a fortune, most fractures would be healed up in that time anyway.

Moore's Law; give it time, guys, it'll get either twice as cheap or twice as good every year and a half; just like most people now have phones, given time, most people will have this.

Or to use a health term, just like most people (in the 1st world, but outside America) can be to doctors and have life-saving surgery instead of just the rich, in 20 or 30 years it'll likely be the same for this.

Finally, with the amount of money pumped into the U.S. military for research, all that research into robotics and such will filter back into the public and we'll get some awesome technology given time.

Chaosritter:

FalloutJack:
Damn straight. For those who have broken their legs, or are paralyzed, or never had the option in the first place, many thoughts are spared for the lack of mobility.

I guess a custom exoskeleton for a broken leg is a bit of an overkill. These things take months to make and cost a fortune, most fractures would be healed up in that time anyway.

Hmm, a fair point. One would hope that you could get simply an exo-leg on that account, sort of like a mechanical splint that would save you weeks of physical therapy.

Gethsemani:

Why are you? The beautiful thing about DE:HR is that it keeps most of its' technology at a plausible level and even grounds it in reality by presenting current research into prosthetics and artificial limbs in the game in abridged formats (all those e-books? Many of them are based on what the cutting edge was back in 2011). One could easily take Human Revolution to be a vision of where we might be in 2030 in regards to artificial limbs if there are some major breakthroughs in the next few years.

As a nurse, it makes me a bit giddy to consider that I might have the chance to work with nursing specialized at artificial limbs in my lifetime... But that's just a sort of professional dream.

My answer is the same as my answer to Strazdas. Please don't feel like I'm brushing you off by not giving you a different answer, but I don't think I can sum up my reservations as much as I already did.

 

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