Saturday October 20, 2018
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Now Paralyzed Can Also Walk Due To Exoskeleton Technology

Technology helps in walking

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Patrick Wensing tests out an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton in his lab at the University of Notre Dame. He and his team are working to make the machines more intuitive.
Patrick Wensing tests out an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton in his lab at the University of Notre Dame. He and his team are working to make the machines more intuitive. VOA
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An accident, a stroke, or a disease can leave someone paralyzed and unable to walk. That happens to more than 15 million people around the world each year.

But new technological advances and physical therapy could help some of them walk again.

Among the most promising is the use of robotic exoskeletons, like one made by Ekso Bionics. It looks a bit like a backpack that straps on the user’s back and around the midsection. Robotic ‘legs’ complete with foot panels extend from either side of the pack and wrap around the patient’s legs. A video game-style controller attaches to the pack with a long cord.

The EksoGT robotic exoskeleton is being used in more than 200 rehabilitation centers around the world, including Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital.
The EksoGT robotic exoskeleton is being used in more than 200 rehabilitation centers around the world, including Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. VOA

“I’m going to be a robot!”

Lindsey Stoefen has been doing physical therapy with the exoskeleton for an hour a day, as she works to recover from the rare disorder that put her in a wheelchair in October.

The 17-year-old athlete climbed into a specially designed exoskeleton for the first time in late April, after becoming an in-patient at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago.

She recalls being nervous. “I was like ‘Dang, I’m going to be a robot!’ I was scared at first. I was like, ‘Am I going to like it? Will I be okay?’ And once I got into it, I loved it.”

Lauren Bularzik, Lindsey’s physical therapist, says the exo robots help to accelerate the rehabilitation process. “For someone who takes a lot of energy to only walk a few feet, exo can get them up, can get them moving, it can supplement their movements, get that reciprocal pattern, encourage the correct motor planning.”

Beside speeding up recovery times, these robotic skeletons are especially helpful for those with paralysis, from spinal cord injuries and strokes. Using the machine can help some patients rewire their brains to use secondary muscles, so they can eventually walk again – without the device.

The downside

Scientists at the University of Notre Dame are leading the way with their work on wearable robots that allow patients to regain some or all of their mobility. But Patrick Wensing, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says exoskeletons have one big drawback.

Bionic exoskeleton helps wheelchair users stand and walk
Bionic exoskeleton helps wheelchair users stand and walk. Flickr

“While existing exoskeletons are very powerful, they don’t understand what the user wants to do. So in order to transition between activities in daily life, you often have to press a button interface to tell the exoskeleton ‘I would like to stand up now.’”

Wensing and his team are collaborating with Ekso Bionics, a leading developer of wearable robots, to create a machine that can understand what its user wants to do without implanted sensors and complicated control panels.

The new three-year project funded by The National Science Foundation’s robotic initiative, hopes to achieve a more fluid, intuitive system.

Taylor Gambon has spent the last year analyzing data from exoskeleton users and comparing them to models of everyday walking. “What we’re seeing is that slow walking in general, whether in the exoskeleton or just the human, is much different from walking at a speed that you would choose naturally.”

Also read: Heart patients who walk faster hospitalised less

Later this year, the team will travel to Ekso Bionics’ California headquarters, where they will work directly with exoskeletons to design programs that interact with users of various disabilities, so that more people like Lindsey Stoefen can get back on their feet again. (VOA)

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Samsung Launches Galaxy S4 Tab

Samsung also announced several offers for those who want to buy the flagship tablet.

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Samsung India set to launch Galaxy Tab S4 this week for Rs 60,000. Flickr

Samsung on Thursday launched in India its flagship tablet, Galaxy Tab S4, a new two-in-one Android tablet that comes equipped with Samsung Dex and S Pen for Rs 57,900.

Galaxy Tab S4 sports narrower bezels to fit a 10.5-inch display with Super AMOLED technology, as well as a 16:10 screen ratio.

Powered by a 7,300mAh battery, Galaxy Tab S4 also comes with four speakers tuned by AKG and Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology.

 

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The redesigned S Pen offers an authentic handwriting experience – suitable for drawing, taking notes, and messaging.

 

“Paired with Samsung Dex and S Pen, Galaxy Tab S4 is designed for those who need something portable like a tablet yet capable like a PC,” Aditya Babbar, General Manager, Mobile Business, Samsung India, told reporters here.

Samsung DeX optimises the user experience for work situations and gives what they want from a PC experience — a big screen, a full-size keyboard and a mouse.

In Standalone mode, one can enjoy a PC-like interface even without a monitor or the “Book Cover” Keyboard, Samsung India said.

In Dual mode, users can connect the tablet to a bigger monitor with an HDMI adapter.

The redesigned S Pen offers an authentic handwriting experience – suitable for drawing, taking notes, and messaging.

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Powered by a 7,300mAh battery, Galaxy Tab S4 also comes with four speakers tuned by AKG and Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology.

Galaxy Tab S4 will be available from Thursday onwards in black and grey colours on Samsung Online Shop and leading offline retail stores, the South Korean tech giant said, adding that it will also be available on Amazon from October 20 onwards.

Samsung also announced several offers for those who want to buy the flagship tablet.

Those with HDFC Bank credit cards will be able to avail an introductory offer that lets consumers get Rs 5,000 cashback on purchase of Galaxy Tab S4.

Also Read: Honor 8X Launches In India

Moreover, Galaxy Tab S4 customers on Jio 4G, would be entitled to get instant cashback of Rs 2,750 on recharging with Rs 198 or Rs 299 plan.

They would also get double data benefits on every recharge for the next four recharges, Samsung India said. (IANS)