A huge step forward for ReWalk Robotics, the Israeli exoskeleton developer and manufacturer, following an announcement by the US Department of Veterans Affairs that it is issuing a national policy for the evaluation, training and procurement of ReWalk Personal exoskeleton systems for all qualifying veterans across the United States.

The VA policy, which is exclusive to ReWalk Robotics exoskeleton systems, is the first national coverage policy in the United States for qualifying individuals who have suffered spinal cord injury.

“This historic policy will provide access to our life-changing technology for thousands of veterans across America,” said ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski.  “We want all US veterans with a spinal cord injury to know that they now have a path to securing their own ReWalk Personal exoskeleton system.

“The policy outlines a sound process to educate, train and importantly, to provide individual veterans with a ReWalk Personal device so that they may walk at home and in the community. We expect this landmark national policy will substantially improve the health and quality of life of many veterans in the years ahead,” Jasinski added.

The ReWalk Personal 6.0 device provides powered hip and knee motion that enables individuals with spinal cord injury to stand upright and walk. The system — a wearable brace, a computer-based control system and motion sensors — allows people who don’t usually get out of their wheelchairs to walk independently while mimicking the natural gait patterns of the legs.

In addition to helping people walk again, studies have shown other health benefits for the ReWalk device including improved bladder and bowel function, improved mental health, improved sleep, reduced fatigue, decreased body fat, decreased pain and improved posture and balance.

ReWalk Robotics was founded in 2001 with the mission to fundamentally change the quality of life for individuals with lower limb disability through the creation and development of market leading robotic technologies.

The company develops, manufactures and markets wearable robotic exoskeletons for individuals with spinal cord injury.

A precise fit 

In July 2015, the company unveiled its latest edition of its personal powered exoskeleton system—the ReWalk Personal 6.0—marking the company’s sixth generation community use product.

The newest device offers those with spinal cord injuries a precise fit (the device is fitted to the user’s measurements and custom ordered for each individual), the fastest walking speed (users can walk at speeds up to 0.71 meters/second), and better mobility (redesign of the strapping and padding provides the users with an easier and faster capacity to put the system on and take it off).

“The launch of the 6.0 offers those with spinal cord injury an exoskeleton design that fits better, walks faster and has better gait control than prior generations of the product,” said ReWalk’s CEO Larry Jasinski. “The enhanced design of the 6.0 offers highly customized fittings, and software to better match the size and anatomy of each individual user, providing a better walking experience than any prior design and over any other known products in clinical trials around the world.”

ReWalk is the only FDA cleared exoskeleton system in the US, with clearances for both personal use at home and in the community, as well as for the rehabilitation setting.

“We are also very pleased that the VA’s fundamental clinical research conclusively demonstrated that there are significant medical benefits associated with enabling an individual with a spinal cord injury to walk again,” Jasinski said. “Based on their data, the VA’s national policy now defines use of an exoskeleton as the standard of care for qualifying veterans with spinal cord injury. We are hopeful the VA policy will pave the way for additional positive national coverage decisions.”

Earlier this year, the US Navy announced it would also use an Israeli product to treat its soldiers. The US Navy chose Brainsway’s deep TMS helmets as part of a comprehensive treatment approach to depression at some of its healthcare centers for service people and their families.

ReWalk has headquarters in the US, Israel and Germany.