EKSO BIONICS

EKSO, that’s the name of the exoskeleton which forms part of a clinical study, performed to improve the mobility and muscular endurance of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, which has been developed by a Californian company known as EKSO Bionics.

The experts trust the forecasts will come through and that Ekso shall be able to decrease the number of falls and fatigue among those people who suffer from multiple sclerosis. Therefore, this would also obtain clinically significant improvements.

EKSO BIONICS, collaborating entities

This new rehabilitation practice, is led by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of Bizkaia ADEMBI and receives the financial support of the BBK Foundation.

Significant Basque research institutions have worked throughout this trial such as the UPV/EHU, Biocruces Bizkaia, Adembi and Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience. They all share the same goal: improving the gait and balance of people affected by this disease, using a portable exoskeleton.

“From the traditional way of doing rehabilitation, up till now, we could only go so far. The window of treatment it now allows us and how the disease is increasingly more under control, the ever more specific objectives that aim more towards improving the quality of life, with what bionics and robotics have to contribute, is showing us that the future of rehabilitation and the quality of multiple sclerosis can bring a completely radical change shaped by means of technology”. Pedro Carrascal – Director ADEMBI

EKSO Exoskeleton Clinical Trial

Before performing the clinical trial, ADEMBI carried out a preliminary test in its facilities, in order to check whether EKSO was ideal for training the gait of people who attend their treatment centre. It resulted in a pleasant experience for those people who participated in the test.

The research carried out for one year on a sample of 50 and 75 people, who had been divided into two different groups. On the one hand, those who have maintained their conventional physiotherapy treatments and, on the other, the rest who had worked using the exoskeleton, twice a week. In this manner, the experts were able to measure the progress of the treatment more accurately and perform a subsequent comparison of both therapies.

 

After a few positive results and verifying that the project is feasible, ADEMBI has succeeded in acquiring an exoskeleton. This means, that around 200 people, that is 80%, of the people who regularly attend the centre, can begin benefitting from this new rehabilitation praxis.

Before each session, the physiotherapists have to indicate every patient’s factors to the exoskeleton, since it is fully adaptable to each patient’s needs.

One of the great advantages EKSO is providing experts is that the device is capable of recording and storing all the details of a person’s gait, which can be subsequently analysed.

“The scales we use in rehabilitation are highly subjective. A two for me, could be a three for another physiotherapist. Technology, on the other hand, provides real and objective data” points out Erika Otxoa rehabilitation coordinator and researcher at ADEMBI.

However, the people in charge of the centre underline that this state-of-the-art equipment, is not a replacement for the traditional physiotherapeutic therapies, but a complement that is becoming more valuable.

At present it is only possible to use the exoskeleton in rehabilitation sessions, but from the positive response received from the patients who have been able to use it, it seems inevitable to ask whether it can form part of the day-to-day of those who need it, not only for therapy.