In the US, stroke patients will soon be able to take advantage of advanced robotics in their recovery. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved French company Wandercraft’s Atalante X exoskeleton for stroke rehabilitation. The machine can help with intensive gait training, especially for people with limited upper body mobility that may hinder rehabilitation with other methods.
The current generation Atalante X is a self-balancing battery-powered device with adjustable gait that can help from the first steps to a more confident gait in the later stages of therapy. Although the device still requires therapist-assisted operation in a clinical setting, its use allows patients to regain their gait, whether or not they can use their hands.
Wandercraft plans to ship its first exoskeletons to the US during the first quarter of this year. The company recently launched its commercial business in the country, but financial backer Quadrant Management says Wandercraft can expand its operations significantly over the next one to two years.
FDA-approved exoskeletons are still relatively rare and are still limited to the use of a therapist for certain medical conditions. Last June, Ekso Bionics received approval to sell its device EksoNR for multiple sclerosis rehabilitation. Wandercraft’s approval makes the technology available to a wider range of patients and could be especially helpful at a time when strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. More than 795,000 people in the country experience a stroke each year, and this could help some of them regain their freedom of movement.