Chris Ashton

dai11y 01/04/2021

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3D-printed exoskeleton allows paralysed woman to “walk”

  • An blog post by accessibility consultant Nicolas Steenhout, which has resurfaced recently. It gives his opinion of a CNET article about a paralysed woman whose 3D-printed exoskeleton allows her to “walk”. As Nicolas points out, the $150k exoskeleton holds the woman up, and moves her in a way that looks like walking, but she isn’t actually “walking”.
  • The article is well worth a read, detailing some of the considerations the engineers at 3D Systems had to factor in, such as ensuring that hard parts of the exoskeleton don’t bump into parts of the body. (This wouldn’t be felt by the paralysed wearer, and would lead to bruising an abrasions that could become infected).
  • What I found most interesting was Nicolas’ suggestion that such developments could be considered ableist. He references a previous blog post where he debunked the idea that you need to “stand” to cook or socialise. Nicolas’ implication here is that the exoskeleton offers no benefits over a traditional electric wheelchair, other than conforming to societal norms.

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