How IoT helps paraplegics regain movement

Recovering after a stroke or spinal cord injury can take months or even years. An exoskeleton offers prospects, especially if it learns from exoskeletons in other rehabilitation centres. Indeed, through IoT.

Not too much power, but not too little either
The American company Ekso Bionics developed an exoskeleton for people who have suffered a cerebrovascular infarction or brain haemorrhage. This Ekso GT is also suitable if you are paralysed from the chest down. It is the only exoskeleton on batteries that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, supporting this specific group of patients. The biggest challenge: sharing all data about the rehabilitation processes real-time with the medical team. Because each patient needs to receive the appropriate amount of assistance. Literally, at every step.

Manually extracting data
The challenge is an international one. We are talking about 170 affiliated rehabilitation centres, spread over North-America, Africa and Europe. Greg Davault, Vice President of Global Marketing at Ekso Bionics: "We saw problems in the data collection abroad, especially in Europe. One third of the users there had to manually extract the information from the exoskeleton." In addition to that, security and privacy are obviously other important aspects in processing the confidential information.

The same SIM card in all countries
Thanks to the Vodafone Managed IoT Connectivity Platform all these exoskeletons worldwide are now interconnected. Doctors can monitor the progress of their patients and constantly adjust the treatment. The good thing for Ekso is that there is only one party responsible for the connectivity, which makes the manufacturing process a lot easier. For example, each exoskeleton is now equipped with the same SIM card, regardless in which country it will be used. It gives Ekso more market power, which eventually benefits the patients too.

Improving the quality of life
The benefits for patients, doctors and physiotherapists are obvious: rehabilitation can now take place sooner, more often and better, which improves the quality of life. Ekso itself also sees a number of valuable pros, like SIM cards that can be turned on and off as required, usage that can be monitored and data alerts that provide updates. Davault: "The past year, the use of this exoskeleton has increased by 30%. This indirectly promotes patient recovery as well, since we are constantly improving our understanding of their needs and usage patterns."

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