World‘s first cyborg-type robot HAL will be used to treat spinal-cord injuries in Japan
Cyberdyne and Keio University School of Medicine has concluded a partnership memorandum of understanding, in order to advance and accelerate the world’s first, cutting-edge research project and to realize medical innovations for the purpose of making direct contributions to extending healthy life expectancy , using Robot Suit HAL for Medical Use (Lower Limb Type). HAL [Hybrid Assistive Limb] is the world‘s first cyborg-type robot, by which a wearer‘s bodily functions can be improved, supported and enhanced. Cyberdyne’s HAL for Medical Use robotic suit will be used to treat spinal-cord injuries. The project will proceed in two stages starting this year, with the two parties entering into a partnership agreement Monday. First, between 20 to 30 patients, many of whom have suffered from debilitating spinal-cord injuries for half a year, will practice walking while wearing Cyberdyne’s robotic assistance suit, HAL for Medical Use. These sessions will take place three to five times a week and last an hour each day.
The suit detects nerve signals generated by the brain instructing the leg to walk, then activates the motorized limbs, aiding motion. The trials will determine how well this form of rehabilitation improves patients’ ambulatory functions.In addition, Keio professor Hideyuki Okano will conduct clinical trials by summer 2017 in which nerve stem cells grown from iPS cells will be transplanted into patients that gave suffered spinal cord injuries in order to spur growth of new nerve tissue. If the results prove positive, Keio and Cyberdyne will commence the second phase a few years later, where chronically handicapped patients unable to recover sufficiently using HAL alone will receive iPS stem cell transplants and resume rehab sessions with HAL. Both iPS regenerative therapy and the HAL suit are developed in Japan. The Japanese government recognized the suit as a medical device in November. Over 100,000 people in Japan are paralyzed or endure other effects of spinal cord injuries. About 5,000 people or more suffer spinal cord injuries each year.