The HAL system is a neuronal-controlled exoskeleton, which is used for the treatment of patients with spinal cord injuries and increasingly also for patients who have suffered a stroke. The neuronal-controlled HAL robot suit is used for neuromuscular feedback therapy. The command to execute a movement is transmitted from the brain through the spinal cord to the patient’s muscle which results in the muscle being tensioned to execute the movement (1+2). With patients suffering from neurogenic gait disorders this signal chain is partially impaired so that an independent initiation of movement is only possible to a limited degree. However, the residual neuromuscular impulses of the patient are picked up by sensors and transmitted to the HAL system (3). The system detects the impulses and provides the patient with the required power assistance in order to execute the desired movement (4). The aim of the therapy is to increasingly activate muscle impulses and with this to enable a neuronal feedback loop (5). The therapeutic successes are a result of this feedback effect. Within the course of the training the ability to walk is improved as regular repetition helps patients to regain their motion patterns.
As at July 2015 more than 90 paraplegic patients had been treated with the HAL exoskeleton in a number of research projects. The results show that the patients’ ability to walk is improved significantly.
For many patients it will be possible to walk with a rollator, on crutches or even without crutches. The neuromuscular feedback therapy leads to a significant gain in muscular strength. Other effects which can be more or less pronounced include: Reduction of neuropathic pains, improved bladder and bowl functions, positive improved spasticity symptoms, larger areas with skin sensation resulting in a lower decubitus risk. Patients continuing to actively use their regained mobility in everyday life will retain the progress they have made by the end of the neuromuscular feedback therapy.
Neuromuscular feedback therapy in paraplegic patients requires weak neurological residual impulses in the muscles that can be picked up by sensors. Other patient groups, patients suffering from stroke and patients with neuromuscular conditions for which studies are currently underway, must meet certain suitability prerequisites. As a paralysed patient, ask your attending physician or physical therapist if you still have a residual activity in the muscles relevant for the hip and knee joints. According to experience, this is the case with 20 to 30 percent of all paraplegic patients. Your medical records then need to be forwarded to the facility providing HAL therapy services, where an initial medical evaluation will take place. If you are suitable, you will be invited for a test training.
If the test training is successful, we recommend daily movement therapy with the HAL® for a period of three months. One therapy unit takes about two hours (including time for preparation and after-care. The costs for a three-month training in the ZNB amount to €25,000 plus VAT. Your therapy progress will be documented daily, and sent to you and the medical service of the responsible health insurance. On request, you or the funding body will also receive the video recordings of your therapy progress.
Our robot assistant HAL® for Task Support was developed with the aim of relieving the strain on the back in everyday professional life. To this end bioelectric signals from the muscles responsible for the lifting motion are translated into direct torque support. The system reduces the user's physical effort and serves to prevent spinal diseases.
The HAL® for Care Support is aimed at the occupational group of care workers and nurses. Possible fields of application are hospitals, nursing homes as well as outpatient and inpatient care services. Due to its low weight of just 2.9 kg the system can be easily worn throughout the entire work shift.
The HAL® for Labor Support is used by people whose job involve strenuous, repetitive tasks. The system is aimed at users in the logistics, construction and manufacturing industry, amongst others. Thanks to the lithium-ion batteries the device can be operated cordless at virtually any location.