Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Monday, February 10, 2014 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

How a Robotic Suit Helped a Man Walk

Robotic wheelchair
Most people spend little time thinking about the act of walking. But millions of people around the world are not able to walk, not even one step. Now, a new "wearable robot" may change that. Bod Amelion leads a basketball team called the Freewheelers. His players are unable to walk. They use wheelchairs to move around. The Freewheelers play their games in eastern Pennsylvania.

But recently, Bob Amelio did something he has not done in 26 years: walk. Before he attempted walking, Bob's physical therapists measured him. They prepared him for a high-tech device that would lift him out of his wheelchair and tell his legs to move.

The device is a wearable robot called the Ekso Bionic Exoskeleton. People who weigh 100 kilograms or less may be able to wear the exoskeleton. When the therapist touched a button, the Ekso pushed Bod forward and up. Then, battery-powered motors acted as his muscles forcing his legs to move.

Russ Angold is co-creator of the company called Ekso Bionics. He says people using the device still put their own weight on their bone structure. The Ekso, he says, only provides the ability to move. Kevin Oldt already uses the device. He says it changed his life by giving him bone where he had none before.

The company says everyone who is healthy and has permission from a doctor has walked the first time they wore the exoskeleton. After using the device, Bod Amelio was looking forward to his next walk - with his daughter, on the day she is to be married.