Indego exoskeleton gets an approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both clinical and personal use in the country. People who are paralyzed below the waist can stand up and walk using the Indego exoskeleton.
Indego was a 10-year project by a team of engineers at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, and Parker Hannifin Corporation commercialized the low-limb exoskeleton for use in the U.S.
Michael Goldfarb, a mechanical engineering professor who developed Indego, said he finds the FDA approval "particularly gratifying." Indego is the first product from his Center for Intelligent Mechatronics lab to become a commercial product with the help of students and engineers. He hopes that Indego will make a difference in the patients' quality of life.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded the Indego's initial development. In 2012, Parker bought the Indego's exclusive license to sell and has worked with Goldfarb's ream to develop a commercialized version since.
"Parker has done an excellent job in running their leg of the relay race, bringing the exoskeleton to market in just three years," said Goldfarb.
Indego is an external skeleton that works by strapping it tightly around the patient's torso. The legs are strapped with firm supports, extending from the hips to the knees and from the knees to the feet.
Electric motors act as knee and hip joints that can be controlled using a computer and are powered by advanced batteries. Patients use forearm crutches to keep their balance while standing up and walking using Indego.
Patients can also remove the exoskeleton while they are sitting down or using a wheelchair. This design feature allowed Indego to become lighter and less bulky.
Goldfarb likened Indego to a Segway with legs. With Indego, a patient can move forward by leaning forward. If a patient leans back and holds the position, he can sit down. Leaning forward while sitting down and holding it for a few seconds enables the person to stand up.
Indego received the FDA clearance after completing the largest clinical trial for an exoskeleton device in the U.S. In a press release, Parker said that the study participants were able to walk safely on several outdoor and indoor surfaces and environments using Indego in the span of more than 1,200 individual sessions.