It seems like new mobility technology is being announced every week now. We’ve written about several, from wearable robots like the ReWalk (which allows those without the use of their legs to walk again) to the Paragolfer (which allows those without the use of their legs to golf again).
Although those devices represent huge steps forward in mobility technology, they’re expensive and out of most people’s price range. But the Kickstart was specifically designed to be affordable.
The Kickstart’s creator, Brian Glaister, was working at the Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering where patients used robotic limbs costing up to $100,000 to learn to walk again. Brian didn’t think those devices would ever be available for in-home use, so in 2007 he and his friend Jason Shoen started Cadence Biomedical.
Now six years later, they’ve unveiled the Kickstart—a mobility device designed to help those who’ve had a stroke, spinal cord injury, or brain injury walk again.
The Kickstart was inspired by horse tendons which are stretchy and store energy, allowing horses to run long distances without getting tired. The Kickstart applies this same basic principal by using “springs connected to pulleys… at the ankle and hip flexor. [They] create tension, propelling the opposite leg forward with each step.” The Kickstart costs $7,800 and insurance often covers part of the cost.
To really get an idea of how the Kickstart works, check out this video.