ReWalk Robotics of Yokneam Ilit, Israel, is collaborating with Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to license and develop lightweight exoskeleton technologies enabling people to walk following stroke, lower limb disabilities, multiple sclerosis and other mobility limitations.

This “soft suit” robotic system will be the newest development from the company, founded in 2001 with the mission of fundamentally improving quality of life for individuals with lower-limb disabilities from spinal-cord injury.

The ReWalk device is the most studied exoskeleton in the industry. In addition to helping people walk again, these studies have shown that ReWalk leads to improved bladder and bowel function, mental health, posture, balance and sleep, while reducing fatigue, body fat and pain.

There are an estimated 3 million stroke patients with lower-limb disability in the United States, and approximately 400,000 Americans with multiple sclerosis. The majority of these patients, as well as the elderly, do not require the structural support of the rigid exoskeleton designed for individuals with spinal-cord injury, explained Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk.

Soft-suit prototypes from the Wyss Institute, powered by software and mechanics similar to those used in the ReWalk system, use cables connected to the legs and feet with fabric.

ReWalk’s commercialization expertise and experience in wearable robotics complements the Wyss Institute’s research, said Prof. Conor Walsh, founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab.

Jasinski said this collaboration “will help create the next generation of exoskeleton systems, making life-changing technology available to millions of consumers across a host of patient populations.”

The agreement became effective May 16, 2016, and commercialization is anticipated before 2019.