Exoskeletons aren’t necessarily a new concept, however advances in technology have resulted in a range of products that are designed for clinical and personal use to allow spinal injured patients the chance to stand and walk. The Royal Bucks explains the important differences and benefits for your clients.

There are currently four types of exoskeletons available in the UK which have been approved for use.

The aim of all four products is the same, to enable the patient to stand and walk utilising advanced robotics. Aside from that, there are actually many differences between each exoskeleton which can make identifying a suitable device challenging particularly for non-clinicians such as legal professionals or therapists that don’t have a history of working with exoskeletons.

At The Royal Bucks we have developed a range of packages designed to independently assess a patients suitability for each exoskeleton device. Each assessment is bespoke to the patient and is carried out based on their personal and clinical goals for the future.

Some of the differences with the Exoskeletons includes how and where the device can be used as well as recommendations for what support is required to use the device. So, for patients that have a goal of being more independent at home or being able to walk to the local shops, these criteria would straight away narrow down the options available.

Jason’s story

Jason, a former inpatient at Royal Bucks who had sustained a spinal cord injury and had a goal of returning to work, being independent around the house and having the ability to stand and look out to sea on a cruise holiday. During his inpatient stay he was able to trial all four exoskeletons to establish which one would be most appropriate to meet his needs.

The selection was narrowed down and he eventually chose the Indego device which is manufactured by Parker Hanifin. This particular device is the smallest one and therefore much easier to transport. It can be used both inside and outside and doesn’t require a therapist to support the user. As part of a personal injury settlement and on the information provided as part of our independent assessment, this patient was awarded the funds to purchase an Indego for personal use at home.

Following the decision on the Indego device and with funds available to purchase one, the Indego was then incorporated into Jason’s therapy programme to get him used to using the device, to build his tolerance and monitor his reaction to it. This was all supported by a qualified physiotherapist and assistant physiotherapist. At the point Jason felt confident using the device with professional support, the next part of the process was to prepare him for using it at home.

In this case, the Jason’s wife and daughter came to The Royal Bucks to work alongside the team to be trained in how to use the device and to ensure they were clear on the level of support required.

Exoskeletons: best practice

Although the exoskeletons do provide patients with a much greater level of independence, it isn’t recommended that patients use the device on their own.

For safety reasons, the user still requires somebody to walk with them to help stabilise them or to help them maintain the correct posture to activate the devices forward movement. Input from the supporting person is minimal though and, in Jason’s case, could easily be managed by the patients’ teenage daughter.

The Royal Bucks & exoskeletons

The Royal Bucks was the first centre in the UK to purchase an Exoskeleton when the first device came onto the market from the manufacturer, Ekso Bionics which had its device FDA approved in 2016. We now have access to all four devices and have become a leader and expert in exoskeleton robotics.

Formally providing independent assessment, therapy and training for patients wishing to purchase a device has contributed to a range of successful settlement outcomes for the patient.

We also believe that the expertise we provide is invaluable to legal professionals and case managers working with clients on legal claims.

Providing the experience and insight into the technology that is available and matching that with individual patient need provides a positive result for all parties involved.

Contact us for further information:

If you would like to discuss Exoskeletons with The Royal Bucks or receive more information about the assessment packages we offer, you can contact us via info@royalbucks.co.uk.

This article has been provided for BABICM members by The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, Centre for Specialist Care and Rehabilitation. royalbucks.co.uk