Abilitech Medical announced this week that it has launched its Assist exoskeletal arm to help people with neuromuscular disorders to do everyday tasks.
The device is designed to enable people with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other conditions to independently brush their teeth, eat, and open doors — activities for which they’ve needed help from caregivers.
The Assist facilitates independent control of the arms by supporting and assisting both the shoulder and elbow, using software to customize the spring tension to lift objects that weigh up to 12 oz, according to the Eden Prarie, Minn.-based company. Abilitech is launching it in left and right configurations in medium and large sizes to fit adolescents and adults.
“We’ve worked with leading clinicians across the U.S.,” said Angie Conley, who founded Abilitech Medical in 2016 after working at Medtronic. “Equally as important, every week we work with people, their clinicians, and caregivers to get user feedback. This includes input from an engineer on our team who lives with a spinal cord injury.”
“We’ve accumulated so many compelling stories that illustrate the patient need,” Conley added, citing Dr. Hanry Samir, a cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care intensivist who lost his ability to work and perform simple functions after a stroke.
“My dream is to be able to use my arm again, make things easier for my wife, and go back to the profession I love and live for,” Samir said in a news release.
Abilitech is conducting clinical trials for the Assist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. Other organizations partnering with Abilitech to bring the product to market include Houston Methodist Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, HealthPartners (Bloomington, Minn.) and Allina Health Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (Minneapolis). The device will be available across the U.S., with an early concentration in those markets.
The Assist is the first in Abilitech’s future suite of products, which includes a powered handgrip device and a fully robotic, voice-controlled, arm-hand combination assistive device, the company said.