The Kickstart is a spring-actuated (no batteries required!) exoskeleton-like orthotic that helps users with lower limb disability walk. It’s made by company called Cadence Biomedical.
It’s designed to improve the gait of the user by utilizing a long wire (or “tendon”) that runs the length of the leg and is joined to a spring that is mounted near the thigh. There is a metal support bar that also runs the length of the leg with a joint at the hip, the knee as well as the foot. It also incorporates a custom insole to anchor the device to the foot.
When the user steps with the opposing leg, the wire on the Kickstart on the other leg that is now positioned toward the rear of the user stretches and tensions the spring. That energy in the spring is stored and when the user shifts his or her weight off the Kickstart leg, the energy is released from the spring and propels the leg forward.
People that may benefit from the Kickstart include those with moderate lower limb disability from say Multiple Sclerosis, ALS or partial spinal cord injury.
A few questions about the device:
- Is it possible for a user to use it independently? Would she be able to strap it on and adjust it by herself?
- Is it possible to sit down while wearing the Kickstart? How does that work?
- Is the Kickstart intended for therapeutic use or is the vision for it to be also used functionally by say, wearing it throughout the day at the house?
- How much does it cost? *
- Can it be used with supporting mobility aids such as a walker or crutches?
Cost of the Kickstart
In an article about the Kickstart and Cadence Biomedical, the stated cost is $7,800.
Here are a few videos of people using the Kickstart:
Here’s a gentleman who looks to have had a stroke using the Kickstart. Because of his slower strides, you can see very well the springback action that the Kickstart triggers in driving his leg forward: