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Exoskeleton that helps paralyzed walk faces barrier in Japan

30 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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30 Comments
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Too bad drone technology cannot carry people around.

He is lucky to have been able to have a child after his accident.

Wish him luck.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I hope that this technology becomes available as quickly as they can make them - what an incredible advance!

@JapanGal: The guy had his accident seven years ago, and his daughter is nine.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Get them perfected, passed, and in production! This is an incredible life changer for the wheelchair bound. Laser scan for sizing, rapid prototype for individual fit, and get these people out and about in places they truly have difficulty going.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

MarkG

That would require a Japan public, not the individual mind you but the populace as a whole, that cares more about the physically (and mentally for that matter) handicapped. I hate to say it but there's too much of an, "Out of sight, out of mind." mentality regarding people with disabilities here.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Wish Abe cut the red tape already instead of just continuing to talk about it. Especially when reading about inventions like this.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Hang in there Yuichi. The body is an incredible thing. Im sure you are your daughters hero.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hiroshi Yaginuma, a health ministry official overseeing the approval of medical devices, said ReWalk was not yet being considered for approval, and it was unclear whether it would meet the criteria for a treatment device. It is assessing the Hybrid Assisted Limb, or HAL, developed by Japan’s Cyberdyne, in which a wearer’s ability to walk is supported though it is not suitable for paraplegics.

So, they can't use the foreign made one, even though it works. But, you can use the Made In Japan one, even though it isn't suitable.

Great logic there.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

“Safety is the biggest concern for winning its approval for medical use, as well as presenting data that work as scientific evidence of its health impact,” he said. “Approval tends to take many years here, and so the hurdle is pretty high.”

I agree with the regulators. Show it is safe, and then roll it out. Sadly, medical companies have shown a complete lack of any ethics when rushing to recover their R&D investment.

The ones to blame here are the greedy companies, not the government regulators trying to make sure we don't end up with people dying because of greedy companies. If companies were more ethical then the regulatory barriers would be lowered.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

“Safety is the biggest concern for winning its approval for medical use, as well as presenting data that work as scientific evidence of its health impact,” he said. “Approval tends to take many years here, and so the hurdle is pretty high.”

Baloney. Japan's approval process is mainly about keeping lots and lots of bureaucrats employed, as well as to frustrate foreign companies so much that they choose not to bother with the Japanese market. Safety is great, but needing to test products on Japanese people because of the supposed physiological differences is just protectionism -- pure and simple. These patients are suffering from atrophy and other problems which this product could address. How is that more safe?

10 ( +13 / -3 )

How safe are they?

https://sites.google.com/a/cortland.edu/exoskeletons-for-paraplegics/ethics

It seems ReWalk does not have any function to prevent from stumbling and falling, except the sticks the user holds.

The user must have a healthy upper body and strong arms that can support him by the sticks in case of stumbling.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I hate to say it but there's too much of an, "Out of sight, out of mind." mentality regarding people with disabilities here.

It has a long way to go yes, but it is getting much better than before.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As many train stations don't have elevators or escalators I'm sure he still faces barriers

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's very curious that the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency took so long to legalise the pill, whereas viagra was OKed in a matter of weeks.

I wonder why they would stall on the exoskeleton?

It seems like a wonderful thing for those who need it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's very curious that the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency took so long to legalise the pill, whereas viagra was OKed in a matter of weeks.

You again are spouting off misinformation here. Viagra did not take weeks to legalize here, it went through the process like like any other new drug and for quite a while was in fact an under-the-counter ILLEGAL substance prior to getting authorized here.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE quit spouting off misinformation and get your facts straight.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How 'bout you get your own facts straight before expressing indignation?

Notice the post said "weeks" not 6 months, and the pill has been available in Japan for over 3 decades. It was introduced in a totally different era.

It is misinformation, one can not use decades old comparisons to talk about what is happening today. Japanese pharmaceuticals are well known for taking their own sweet time to getting new drugs or therapies approved here.

The TPP will change that, yet that is another story.

However my post was NOT wrong, it is misinformation to state that viagra took weeks to get approved it took much longer than 6 months in reality as it was being vetted before official trials began.

It did go through the vetting process that is a fact, and you can not compare the pill either.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Clearly the answer for Mr. Imahata is to move to a society that allows this device and doesn't prevent him from regaining his physical ability. Japan can blame the over-cautious health ministry for losing a productive citizen (and with a kid, to boot).

It is reprehensible that a new invention like this, which is clearly helping a member of society regain the functions that 99% of the rest of society takes for granted, is considered to be forbidden until it is specifically approved. This isn't some kind of futuristic augmentation that gives its wearers superhuman powers; it's something that lets handicapped people become "normal" again.

How can officials like Mr. Yaginuma keep a straight face? "Yeah, sorry about you not being able to walk, but we haven't yet figured out how to siphon all the profits into the pockets of the big corporations, so until then, enjoy your wheelchair. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going out for a jog."

Disgusting.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The article states:

The effort is going far more smoothly in places such as China than Japan, said Yaskawa spokesman Ayumi Hayashida.

Why is it that Japan is so slow getting approval through channels? You would have thought that a wonderful development like this would be pushed through rapidly. I have worked with handicapped people and understand the restrictions that people confined to bed or wheelchair have.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Caution is right. Think how this exoskeleton might impact on Japanese extra long colons...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"We will rebuild him. We have the technology."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He is lucky to have been able to have a child after his accident.

His daughter was born before the accident.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sioux ChefMay. 14, 2015 - 09:05AM JST

He is lucky to have been able to have a child after his accident.

His daughter was born before the accident.

What is your source for this? The article states his daughter is 9 years old and he has been using a wheelchair for 7 years. Unless he was in immobile for 2 years it would suggest that his daughter was in fact born after the accident. I'm not saying you're wrong, merely that I don't see a source for your statement.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

but needing to test products on Japanese people because of the supposed physiological differences is just protectionism -- pure and simple.

Exactly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Technology to aid disabled people live more regular (normal) lives should be given a high priority to decide if it is safe or not for the users and the people around them. This is the same BS that drugs have to be tested for years and years before they can be released to the general public. Perhaps the government people who make the rules should have to spend some time attached to one of these walking assist devices so they can understand how they work and what benefits they offer. Someday, mankind will be able to do incredible things with technology to assist disabled people and I am all for it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

FrungyMay. 14, 2015 - 10:08AM JST

The article states his daughter is 9 years old and he has been using a wheelchair for 7 years. Unless he was in immobile for 2 years it would suggest that his daughter was in fact born after the accident. I'm not saying you're wrong, merely that I don't see a source for your statement.

It is 2015 now. So, his daughter was born in 2006. He started using his wheelchair in 2008. Unless he was immobile for 2 years, she was born BEFORE the accident.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

CH3CH0 & Frungy.

Doesn't matter if his daughter was born/conceived before or after the incident. Paralyzed People are very capable of making a child.

Read an interesting article a few years back how the British NHS provides access to sex-workers for wheelchair bound People

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CH3CHOMay. 14, 2015 - 04:01PM JST

FrungyMay. 14, 2015 - 10:08AM JST

The article states his daughter is 9 years old and he has been using a wheelchair for 7 years. Unless he was in immobile for 2 years it would suggest that his daughter was in fact born after the accident. I'm not saying you're wrong, merely that I don't see a source for your statement.

It is 2015 now. So, his daughter was born in 2006. He started using his wheelchair in 2008. Unless he was immobile for 2 years, she was born BEFORE the accident.

Yes, before, not after. I mistyped a single word. It should have been obvious from 9 - 7 though.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

First, It doesn't matter that the child was born before or after the incident, paraplegic people are able to have children.

Second, It seems that all the bureaucracy comes because the exoesqueleton was developed outside Japan, and that prevents the Japanese development, it is a pity for Japan, whereas in other parts of the world, it would be easier to access this device (in terms of paperwork, not price tho')

Question: this device was the one featured in an episode of Glee?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, before, not after. I mistyped a single word. It should have been obvious from 9 - 7 though.

Not only mistype but also misread:

His daughter was born before the accident.

What is your source for this? The article states his daughter is 9 years old and he has been using a wheelchair for 7 years. Unless he was in immobile for 2 years it would suggest that his daughter was in fact born after the accident. I'm not saying you're wrong, merely that I don't see a source for your statement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is your source for this? The article states his daughter is 9 years old and he has been using a wheelchair for 7 years.

My source is nine minus seven.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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