You Can Now Buy This Robotic Exoskeleton to Help You Walk

Honda Motor Co. Demonstrates Walk Assist And Mobility Device
An employee demonstrates a Honda Motor Co. assistive walking device during a media preview in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Honda starts to lease the device to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities from November. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg—via Getty Images

Motion and control tech giant Parker Hannifin (PH) has won regulators’ blessings to hawk its Indego robotic exoskeleton product directly to consumers as well for use in clinical settings.

The device, which is meant to assist patients with spinal cord injuries or other mobility-limiting conditions walk, was cleared for sale in the European market towards the end of 2015. It resembles a pair of standalone robotic legs which users can attach with a strap above their waists and helps manipulate joint and lower limb movements.

“In a relatively short amount of time, we have taken what was a prototype device and readied it for full commercial launch,” said Parker Hannifin CEO Tom Williams in a statement. The company said that it is looking towards a U.S. launch “in the coming months.”

There were between 240,000 and 337,000 Americans living with spinal cord injuries in 2014, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, and about 12,500 new cases every year. The broader mobility market numbers in the millions.

But as the Wall Street Journal points out, the Indego’s $80,000 per-unit price tag could cause some major sticker shock for insurers and prevent the device from achieving the type of market penetration Parker Hannifin might eventually hope to see.

That’s why company execs are staying realistic about short-term sales outlooks and pressing on with further studies which aim to demonstrate additional “economic and health benefits of exoskeleton technology” to woo insurers.

Parker Hannifin already has a four-year agreement in place with the Department of Defense and major U.S. rehabilitation centers.

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