Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

The robotic exoskeleton helping the badly injured back to their feet

Alex Fraser in Genoa, Italy


Alex Santucci lost the ability to walk after suffering an injury to his spinal cord two years ago. The accident left him bedridden - but now, he's been helped back to his feet by a new wearable 'robot' which has enabled him to walk again.

The battery-powered exoskeleton, dubbed 'Twin', uses motors activated at the knees and hip joints to help the user stand up, sit down and walk.

"It's changed my life because it's given me the ability to get up, to speak at eye level with other people," Santucci told CGTN at the robot's launch at Milan's Museum of Science and Technology.

The robot was developed by the Italian Institute of Technology and the Prosthetic Center of INAIL (Italian National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work) in their joint Rehab Technologies laboratory in Genoa.


Where is Flight MH-370?

Meet the 'Chinosaurs'

Why young Chinese are returning to the country

It enhances the user's physical capabilities, which allows individuals with reduced or no motor ability to move their lower limbs, to maintain an upright position and walk with the assistance of crutches.

Robotic exoskeletons already exist, but the Italian-designed exoskeleton is unique because it can easily be taken apart and transported. Made from lightweight aluminum alloy, it is adjustable for each patient's individual sizes and requirements.

"Twin is completely modular, which means you can mount and unmount it on yourself," said project coordinator Matteo Laffranchi.


Levels of impairments

The technology was developed in conjunction with rehabilitation centers in Imola and Costa Masnaga.

Physiotherapists can set the parameters and operating mode to control the exoskeleton with an Android app. It operates in three different modes and is adaptable based on the user's level of disability. It can be set to walk in a pattern, to retrain lower limb functions, or to work on one leg at a time.

"The Twin exoskeleton allows people with different levels of impairments in their legs to walk. So you have people with more or less severe impairments and you can just don the whole robot on yourself and this allows you to walk," Laffranchi explained.

The prototype, which has a four-hour battery and can be charged in one hour, can also be used to aid circulation, musculoskeletal issues and digestion for wheelchair users.

Before mass production, the project's next step will be CE marking to conform to European Union standards.

Santucci has been participating in clinical trials with the device since the early stages of his rehabilitation.

"When you use it, it makes you feel like you have returned to reality," he said.

It could be revolutionary - allowing people with reduced motor abilities and spinal injuries to stand up tall and walk into a brighter future.

The robotic exoskeleton helping the badly injured back to their feet

Subscribe to Storyboard: A weekly newsletter bringing you the best of CGTN every Friday

Search Trends