Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Israeli Breakthrough Invention ‘ReWalk’ Going Miles

Shalom Life speaks with Dr. Amit Goffer, the creator of the revolutionary exoskeleton suit, on his technology, achieving international success and his future plans

By: Sandra Mergulhão

Published: August 1st, 2013 in Health » World

They say a bad workman always blames his tools.

However, when Dr. Amit Goffer was injured in a car crash in 1997, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, he wasn’t one to blame the first, and only choice of tool he was given – his wheelchair.

Instead, Dr. Goffer immediately set out to try and invent a device to replace the wheelchair and provide more options for paraplegics.

Not long after, the revolutionary ReWalk was born – an Israeli-developed exoskeleton and bionic walking assistance system that utilizes powered leg attachments to enable paraplegics to stand upright, walk, and climb stairs.


In layman’s terms, the ReWalk is a ‘robotic trouser’ that uses sensors and motors to allow paralyzed patients to walk and meet the world eye-to-eye.

“My personal experience was the trigger [for the invention], but I couldn’t understand why wheelchairs were the only solution for paralyzed individuals. Being an entrepreneur, it was natural for me to start developing the ReWalk and establishing Argo,” says Goffer, the Founder, President and Chief Technical Officer of Argo Medical Technologies – the Israeli company that commercialized the ReWalk.

Ironically enough, Goffer has not yet been able to enjoy his creation.


(The ReWalk exoskeleton being put to good use)

The ReWalk device, which is worn outside of clothing, is meant for paraplegics and consists of leg braces outfitted with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to subtle changes in upper-body movement and shifts in balance.

Put more candidly, ReWalk users need their hands and shoulders to operate the device and support crutches. It is yet to be available for quadriplegics at this point, though, Goffer points out, his company is working on it.

“We are working on improving the device and extending the scope of its usage,” he says positively.

Having had to start at the bottom, the first set of problems was to recruit substantial funds and overcome skepticism surrounding the product. “One of the challenges I faced was that I needed to get ‘into the head’ of the disabled individual and develop the complicated ambulation and safety algorithms and software,” says the former electrical engineer.

But all the hard work paid off and today, ReWalk has achieved immense success and has even gained recognition in mainstream pop culture. In 2010, ReWalk was featured in a Christmas episode of the musical comedy-drama television series, Glee.


(The ReWalk on Glee)

Earlier this year, ReWalk was again in the spotlight when a UK woman, Clare Lomas made history as the first person in the world to complete the London Marathon in a bionic suit and even lit the Paralympic cauldron in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Dr. Goffer reveals, however, that it was never his intent for ReWalk to become ‘popular.’ “I didn’t think about success in the early stages,” he says. “But I was expecting that the device would be welcomed by the disabled community.”

To top it all off, in March, the success of ReWalk was accentuated when Dr. Goffer had the honor of presenting and demonstrating the ReWalk technology to President Obama at the Israeli Technologies Exhibition in Jerusalem. “It was a unique and exciting event,” he recalls. “It increased the awareness to the disabled needs and highlighted the fact that Israel (through us in this case) also helps the United States. Several US injured soldiers are using the ReWalk today,” he adds proudly.

Despite achieving such monumental success, Dr. Goffer is not one to rest on his laurels. He, along with his team, are now focusing on expanding their global marketing, sales and support infrastructure. “Our plans also include possibly cooperating with a strategic leading company,” he says zealously.

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