Toyota is putting some of its car research into helping people walk again.
On Wednesday, the company launched a robotic leg brace, the Welwalk WW-100. The motorised device is designed to help partially paralysed people, such as stroke patients.
The leg brace is able to help with functions such as supporting body weight, and assisting with movements such as swinging the leg forward.
The device has sensitivity levels that can be fine-tuned to a therapist’s prescription.
Providing too much mechanical assistance could slow down a patient’s rehabilitation progress, explained Eiichi Saito, a medical doctor and executive vice president at Fujita Health University.
FHU collaborated with Toyota in developing the device. “This [device] helps just barely enough,” the doctor said.
Japan’s ageing population is seeing a higher occurrence of paralysis due to strokes. One hundred devices will be rented to medical facilities in Japan later this year.
The equipment calls for a one time initial charge of $9,000 and a $3,200 monthly fee, reports Techcrunch.
“Our vision is about trying to deliver mobility for everybody,” Toshiyuki Isobe, Toyota’s Chief Officer for Research, told AP at the Tokyo launch on Wednesday.
“We have been developing industrial robotics for auto manufacturing, and we are trying to figure out how we can use that technology to fill social needs and help people more,” said the carmaker.