Robotic Legs Help the Paralyzed Walk

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New Zealand scientists have developed a way for wheelchair users to walk again through the use of robotics.

The "Rex" -- short for "Robotic Exoskeleton" -- is the pair of bionic legs that allows paralyzed users to stand and walk.

Rex Bionics unveiled the device after a "test run" with Hayden Allen, a paraplegic who's been paralyzed from the chest down for five years after a motorcycle accident.

"I was a bit of a daredevil on motorbikes and [the researchers] brought me in and I just said I want to be a part of it. I couldn't walk away from something like that, or roll away from that," Allen said.

The robotic legs only allow small steps at a time -- although, still a life-changing development.

"There's no other device that we know of that's autonomous and allows people to stand, walk, go up and down stairs and slopes and things independently," said Rex designer Richard Little.

The Rex is custom made for each patient, straps around the user's legs and is controled with a joystick and control pad.

The apparatus weighs 84 pounds and carries a hefty $150,000 price tag -- the price of about 20 wheelchairs.

Developers are now looking for ways to make the high-tech legs more affordable.

Tests are still underway in New Zealand, but Rex Biotics CEO Jenny Morel hopes the invention will be available worldwide in 2011.

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