Bionic legs at Beth Weizmann
WHEN former IDF soldier Radi Kaiuf was shot by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon in 1988, he was told that he would never walk again.
But in 2012, when Kaiuf purchased a robotic device that enables lower-limb mobility-impaired adults to walk, his children saw him stand for the very first time.
And this week in Melbourne, as he took to the stage at Beth Weizmann, he claimed the bionic suit, known as ReWalk, has afforded him “a new life”.
Kaiuf showed off the device, developed by Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies, at a breakfast presentation hosted by the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) and the Israel Trade Commission.
A lightweight, motor-driven exoskeleton that is worn over clothes, the new product is built with motorised legs that power knee and hip movement, enabling people to walk, climb stairs and drive. The users of the technology, who rely on crutches to stabilise their balance, must have functioning hands, arms and shoulders.
The device was invented by Israeli founder of Argo Medical Technologies, electrical engineer and quadriplegic, Dr Amit Goffer.
Argo representatives, who have been showcasing the $85,000 product around the world to much fanfare, are now looking to sell the new technology to Australian hospitals and rehabilitation centres.
Argo representative Jodi Gricci said the purpose of the technology was to “shift the individual from being a wheelchair user to a crutch user. The technology itself is designed with specific goals, to allow the person to be as independent as possible.”
Praising the technological advances coming out of Israel, President of ZCV Sam Tatarka said ReWalk – which enabled British paraplegic Claire Lomas to complete the 2012 London Marathon of 42km in 17 days – was a case in point.
“Can you imagine apart from the incredible physical effort involved, the sense of triumph inherent in somebody who was formally unable to walk but can now complete a marathon,” he said.
As well as the presentation at Beth Weizmann, Argo Medical Technologies showcased ReWalk at the AusMedtech 2014 conference in Melbourne this week.