EIT Health Spotlight story: Revolutionising rehabilitation for independent living

EIT Health is a knowledge and innovation community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) committed to bringing innovative solutions to the market to enhance the health of citizens. EIT Health has supported the development of the ABLE Exoskeleton since the beginning of the project.

EIT Health network connects more than 150 leading organizations in the healthcare, business, education and research domains. Part of EIT Health’s mission is to enable citizens to live longer, healthier lives. At ABLE Human Motion we share the same motivation, and we are committed to developing innovative solutions to enable mobility for all.

Working with EIT Health has brought us quality and credibility, they have provided us with knowledge and access to best-in-class experts from all over the healthcare value chain. We now have partners from leading hospitals, universities and businesses around Europe.”

Alfons Carnicero, Co-founder and CEO, ABLE Human Motion.

Each year, up to 930.000 people worldwide suffer a life-changing spinal cord injury (SCI). SCI may be caused by an accident or biological condition such as disease, infection or tumour, and often leads to paralysis and a loss of freedom and independence in activities of daily living. Paralysis can cause considerable stress in daily life with some people forced to leave their job and move home.

Spinal cord injury has a tremendous effect on the lives of people. You lose your mobility, you are depending on a wheelchair, this restricts your participation in normal life.”

Rüdiger Rupp, Head of Experimental Neurorehabilitation Section, Heidelberg University Hospital

These individuals could walk again with a robotic exoskeleton, a wearable device designed to support people living with disabilities to stand up and move around. But current exoskeletons are expensive (ranging from $67,000 – $160,000) and can weigh about 20 to 25kg, meaning they are not widely available for people to use in their everyday lives. In most cases, a wheelchair is currently the only option.

An exoskeleton is an external assistive device that supports patients in moving around. The problem is exoskeletons can only be used in the hospitals. They are costly, they are big in size, and we do not have the ability to really then continue this therapies at the patient’s homes.

Rüdiger Rupp, Head of Experimental Neurorehabilitation Section, Heidelberg University Hospital.

The ABLE exoskeleton project responds to this clear unmet need amongst the community of people living with spinal cord injury. We realized that to create an exoskeleton that truly addresses this need, people with SCI must be involved in the development process from the beginning. The ABLE Exoskeleton has been developed through a co-creation process, working “hand-to-hand” with clinical professionals and people living with SCI who could benefit from it.

The work I’m doing with ABLE Human Motion has given me the hope that together we can find a solution to improve the spinal cord injury population’s quality of life.

Iván Camps, living with spinal cord injury since 2015.

We believe that technology must adapt to the needs of its end-users, not the other way around. Thanks to the support provided by EIT Health, we work together with expert clinicians and a community of people with spinal cord injury to further develop and clinically validate our exoskeleton technology.

The ABLE Exoskeleton project is supported by EIT Health. EIT Health is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and innovation programme.

Read the entire story on EIT Health’s website: https://eithealth.eu/spotlight-story/able-human-motion/


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