LAUSANNE, Switzerland – A research institute and university in Switzerland on Tuesday showcased an advanced walking assistance system prototype that could help paraplegics walk again independently.
The Swiss Polytechnic Federal Institute of Lausanne (EPFL), in eastern Switzerland, has been working on the second generation TWIICE exoskeleton, a sophisticated motorized walking frame, along with Swiss acrobat Silke Pan, who became disabled in an accident but has since become a hand-cycling champion.
According to Pan, who has been instrumental in the development of the exoskeleton, the second generation model “gives us even greater independence” due to its lighter weight but also because users can put the frame on autonomously.
The freedom it gives disabled people who are used to relying on someone else regularly is of great importance, as it could no doubt improve the quality of many people’s lives.
The EPFL research project has been developed with two companies – Fischer Connectors, a manufacturer of performance connectors, and Sonceboz, a mechatronics specialist – in order to overcome the technical and practical difficulties the exoskeleton presented in its first phase of development.
The next step for this cutting-edge technology is to put it to the test and to market it through the creation of a startup that will lead to the production and sale of the walking-assistance systems.