Friday, November 04, 2011

The Six-Million Dollar Man?

The bionic man we know from sci-fi becomes reality - from Matt Flegenheimer. Watch the video here.

Walking Again, With Help From an Exoskeleton:

Robert Woo gripped the handles of his walker, muscles twitching beneath his black T-shirt. He was ready for his first step.

“You nervous?” asked Damion Cooke, 28, a fellow patient and friend, who was paralyzed below the waist in 2008 by a gunshot wound.

“Yeah,” Mr. Woo said tersely, staring straight ahead, as a small crowd gathered inside the hospital room in Manhattan.

And with that, he was off, walking, nearly four years after seven tons of plummeting steel at a Lower Manhattan construction site had brought into doubt whether Mr. Woo, now 43, would ever be able to do so again.

“I was hoping to be here,” he said afterward, smiling at his wife, Vivian. “It’s almost like riding a bicycle.”

Indeed. A bicycle with a six-figure price tag, a hand-held controller operated by a physical therapist, 15 sensors, a small computer, 2 lithium batteries strapped to Mr. Woo’s back and 2 purring motors, resembling holstered shotguns, at his sides.

On Dec. 14, 2007, Mr. Woo was paralyzed after an accident at a construction site at Goldman Sachs headquarters on West Street. Mr. Woo, an architect on the project, was struck as seven tons of metal studs, hoisted by a crane, crushed the trailer in which he was working.

This week, Mr. Woo has been testing a bionic exoskeleton called Ekso, designed to allow patients in wheelchairs to stand and move while upright.

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