Dad Builds Son An Exoskeleton Robot To Help Him Walk Freely For The First Time
A father in France has founded a company that has built an exoskeleton to allow his son to walk.
In 2012, Jean-Louis Constanza was part of a team that launched the company Wandercraft. The company had a clear goal in mind, and intended to create exoskeletons that allow ‘paraplegics to walk almost normally’. This purpose was realised as two of the three founders of the company had loved ones who used wheelchairs.
Jean-Louis’ son Oscar Constanza has a genetic neurological condition that means his nerves do not send enough signals to his legs. However, with an exoskeleton developed by Wandercraft, Oscar is now experiencing what it’s like to walk.
Speaking about the impact of the exoskeleton his father’s company developed, Oscar said, ‘Before, I needed someone to help me walk… this makes me feel independent.’
This will ultimately be seen as a success for the company, as Jean-Louis was initially inspired by his son.
The business founder told the New York Post:
One day Oscar said to me: ‘dad, you’re a robotic engineer, why don’t you make a robot that would allow us to walk?’
Now that his son has successfully used the exoskeleton, Jean-Louis has high hopes for the future. The businessman has claimed that ‘Ten years from now, there will be no, or far fewer, wheelchairs’ because of exoskeleton technology’.
The technology developed by the company has been sold to hospitals around the world and each unit costs $176,000 USD. Currently, the tech is only being used within hospitals, although there are hopes that exoskeletons can be used by more people for personal use in the future.
Kevin Piette, who lost the ability to walk after a cycling accident 10 years ago, has also tried out the technology. Speaking about its importance, Piette said, ‘I am convinced that there are plenty of people who would like to be able to gain back this autonomy or at least the advantages of being upright.’
Piette noted that being upright has positives for the body, as well as emotionally and socially. He went on to note that there are ‘plenty of benefits to having it in the home, and in the future having it outside’.
Many companies are creating similar technology, for a variety of reasons. While many wish to help people who have difficulty walking, others are designed to help factory workers who spend long periods standing.
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