The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs has recently passed an action that will have the VA pick up the bill for disabled vets who require the use of an exoskeleton — more specifically, a ReWalk exoskeleton, a robotic brace-like contraption that helps paralyzed users (in this case, soldiers that sustained devastating injuries during their service) walk again. It's also the first full-fledged coverage policy for robotic legs in the United States on a federal level.
The VA, which sent a memorandum out on Dec. 10, specified that recipients who are eligible will receive the device for rehabilitative and assistive purposes and must meet specific height and weight requirements to be able to operate the electronic leg brace. other than that, little is known about what exactly the VA's rubric will be to test out what makes a vet qualified to use the device.
The FDA first officially approved the use of the ReWalk exoskeleton in 2014. It was invented in 1997 by an Israeli named Amit Goffer, who himself was paralyzed in an accident.
Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and Republican representative from Florida Jeff Miller was one of the forces to lead the charge behind the policy, calling the ReWalk an "innovative private sector [technology used] in order to better serve veterans" and that the committee "[hopes] to see more of this in the future."
"In an era where the department is much too fixated on defending its lack of accountability for misbehaving employees and providing services that are far outside the scope of its original mission, it's refreshing to see the VA focusing on something that strikes at the core of what it was set up to do," Miller told the Associated Press.
Check out the ReWalk in action in the video clip below.