We have covered exoskeletons before that are designed to help paralyzed patients walk again, but there’s more to the problem than just helping them stand vertically and move about. They face other challenges such as blood pressure management and trunk control.

The FDA recently awarded Breakthrough Device designation to a system called ARC-IM from ONWARD. The system consists of an implant that is placed near the spine, which is them programmed and controlled using a tablet and a smart watch. It has already been shown to be effective in helping patients stand and walk with little or no assistance. A study published in Nature shows that this therapy can also be helpful in normalizing blood pressure in patients with spinal injuries.

This platform joins the ONWARD ARC-EX which already received Breakthrough Device status, and is an external, wearable stimulator and a wireless programmer designed to improve hand and upper limb strength.

It was not so long ago that patients paralyzed by spinal cord damage faced a lifetime confined to a wheelchair. In a remarkably short time, we have seen many promising technologies that have the potential to free them from their chairs. The ability to walk about unassisted can provide an enormous boost to their quality of life.