Agilik Technologies and the Functional and Applied Biomechanics Section of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (NIHCC) will work together on a clinical trial to test ExoStep — Agilik’s wearable exoskeleton legs — in children with gait disorders caused by cerebral palsy, or those with knee-extension deficiency from muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or incomplete spinal cord injury.
Investigators plan to initiate the trial before the end of this year.
Agilik and the federal biomedical research agency signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), which is a written agreement between a private company and a government agency to collaborate on a project. It is one of the principal mechanisms used by federal laboratories to engage in collaborative efforts with private sector partners to disseminate technology.
Children with cerebral palsy often develop crouch (or flexed knee) gait, which is characterized by excessive knee flexion (bending) during the entire time they have their feet on the ground while walking. Exoskeletons, which are wearable devices that work together with its users, help straighten patients’ legs as they walk, alleviating the permanent knee bend that causes the crouching disorder.
Using the exoskeleton technology of Bionic Power, Agilik’s ExoStep is a light-weight, battery-powered, non-invasive gait rehabilitation device. Instead of walking for the patient, the ExoStep moves with its wearer, increasing knee extension and resisting flexion. In doing so, the device strengthens the wearer’s muscles, which enables them to walk smoother and stand taller by easing their crouch posture. ExoStep can be used both at home and in a clinical setting and has potential to help children with different types of movement disorders.
Agilik has an exclusive and worldwide license to use Bionic Power’s wearable exoskeleton technology in medical markets.
“The NIHCC has proven the use case, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in knee extension in children with crouch gait from [cerebral palsy], using exoskeleton technology developed by NIH researchers,” Yad Garcha, Agilik’s CEO, said in a press release.
“What we’ve done is taken Bionic Power’s more mature technology and put it into a light, simple and streamlined device, designed for comfort, ease of use, and affordability. We’re excited to start the trial and prove what ExoStep can do to help children stand taller and walk stronger,” Garcha said.