As exoskeleton technology advances, the life-changing potential for specific Health Tech applications grows. We’ve written about exoskeleton tech often, most recently when Hyundai introduced three exoskeleton robots under development to the world and last year with Marsi Bionics‘ collaboration with the Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) developing an adjustable exoskeleton for kids. This week a group of parents of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, also known as just Duchenne, announced a two-year, $600,000 funding grant to further exoskeleton development for Duchenne patients. The PPMD grant was awarded to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and Talem Technologies.
Duchenne is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood. According to the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), 1 in every 3,500 live male births have Duchenne, or about 2o,000 new cases per year. The disorder is partially but not solely genetic, so anyone can be afflicted. The disease progression leads to a loss of strength, with the greatest medical issues involving the heart and lungs.
NJIT’s contribution to the project consists of an embedded computer, software, a force sensor and a motor that will be incorporated with Talem Technologies’ existing passive, spring-loaded, zero-gravity upper-extremity support exoskeleton device. Starting this week, the project will being recruiting up to 30 non-ambulatory people with Duchenne across the country to use the exoskeleton for daily living and provide feedback to the teams involved.
As disparate Health Tech devices for specific diseases, disorders, conditions, or needs are developed, the potential to combine existing work, rather than starting anew for every problem seeking a solution, has promise to hasten big wins in multiple areas.