Frequently Asked Questions
Let's get you up to speed.
What is an exoskeleton?
An exoskeleton can mean many different things when looking through a dictionary. Even in the realm of medical technology and robotics, it is hard to define, though for rehab purposes it could be described as the following:
A wearable device that is fitted to the user to support, augment, enhance or restore performance of tasks. Exoskeleton devices can cover the whole body or specific body segments depending on the requirements of the user.
What exoskeleton does RoboFit Use?
Robofit uses the Hybrid Assistive Limb, better known as HAL, as part of our rehab treatment.
HAL, developed in Japan by Cyberdyne inc; is the world’s first neuro controlled exoskeleton, primarily used to train, support and enhance the wearer’s strength. This ultimately improves the wearer’s independence and quality of life.
Using electrodes, HAL reads the wearer’s bioelectric signals, interpreting the wearer’s movement intention and working with them to complete movements. This is an intensive program that aims to maximise recovery potential and promote neuroplasticity.
What is a neuro controlled exoskeleton?
An exoskeleton actively driven and controlled by the wearer of the device and their internal nervous system.
Using electrodes placed on the skin of the wearer, HAL detects bioelectric signals within the relevant muscles that have been sent via the nervous system. This feedback allows HAL to interpret the wearer’s movement intention and assists them to complete the desired task in the most accurate way possible.
HAL is designed to work with the wearer, not for them.
Does RoboFit offer other services to the exoskeleton?
Yes, RoboFit also offers more traditional 1:1 Goal Specific Training in addition to telehealth services.
We will also be expanding our line of Cyberdyne exoskeleton products, with a single joint device and lumbar support device due to arrive in the country very soon. These devices will be able to be accessed during Goal Specific Training to help you achieve your desired outcomes.
Furthermore, we hope to expand our suite of services over the coming months to continue meeting the needs of our clients and provide them with a broader range of options.
Ultimately, the exoskeleton is a tool at the hand of the therapist to help them deliver results. The focus is not, nor will it ever be, on using the exoskeleton purely because it is there, it needs to be beneficial to you first and foremost. Therefore, our team of therapists will work on a plan with you, in line with your health and wellbeing goals.
What training are the RoboFit therapists required to go through?
All RoboFit therapists are required to undergo extensive training on the safe, practical and effective use of the HAL exoskeleton device range. Additionally, all our staff are trained on the complexities and presentations across a range of neurological injuries and conditions.
This allows all our therapists to deliver the best, outcomes based training programs possible.
Is it safe?
Provided you meet the safety requirements for the device and present with no contraindications, the device is very safe to use and has been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Furthermore, all sessions within the HAL exoskeleton are completed with the additional safety net of a body weight support harness system which reduces falls risk and consequent injury during walking and balance training significantly.
I’m nervous about the technology, it seems too futuristic
New technology can certainly be confronting and can take some getting used to, therefore, we’ve designed an initial assessment package to determine how suitable you are to use the HAL exoskeleton and to allow you to trial the device before committing to any long term treatment options.
I have a complete injury, can I still use HAL?
Provided you meet the relevant criteria and present with no contraindications, yes, you will still be able to use HAL, though its method of operation may differ.
When using the voluntary mode on HAL, i.e. neuro controlled mode, it will obviously rely on signals being able to reach the muscle via the nervous system which, sometimes, is not possible with a complete injury.
In this instance, HAL is able to switch to an autonomous mode which will walk for you based on shifts in centre of gravity.
It is important to note however, that if you do have a zone of partial preservation (motor function) we are able to switch individual joints to a voluntary mode while other joints remain autonomous so that those signals will be recognised and actively control that specific joint.
What types of funding can I use?
You can use your NDIS or third party insurance funding (such as iCare, TAC, WorkSafe QLD) to pay for, or offset the cost of all RoboFit sessions.
What does the first session look like?
The first 2 hour session, offered as part of our 6 hour suitability package, is designed to help us understand your history, goals and needs to structure a tailored program just for you.
We complete a detailed medical history with you to ensure there are no medical or physical reasons that will impact your ability to participate in HAL training because your safety is our number one priority.
Once the medical history is complete, your legs and hips will be measured so that the right size HAL can be chosen to match your body shape and size.
Once this is complete, baseline testing of various physical measures will be assessed. All outcome measures completed are based on your functional goals. These outcome measures are then used in accordance with your goals to set achievable and realistic targets for the duration of your training.
It is highly unlikely that you will access the HAL exoskeleton within the first 2 hour initial assessment given the importance of the steps above. Trials of the device are generally completed over the next 4 hours of the suitability assessment package.
How much does it cost?
Our suitability assessment package costs $975. This includes the following:
- 2 hour initial assessment (detailed above)
- 2 x 2 hour trials of the HAL exoskeleton
Once the suitability package is completed, we will know for certain if the HAL exoskeleton will help you achieve your goals. Further pricing and packaging options are available from this point on and will vary depending on your funding package and how much assistance will be required during your session.
What is CAC?
CAC – Cybernic Autonomous Control
In CAC mode, HAL provides 100% of standing and walking assistance based on pre-programmed leg trajectories. It determines when to automatically take a step based on shifts in centre of gravity which are detected by the pressure sensors in the shoe of the device.
What is CIC?
CIC – Cybernic Impedance Control
In CIC mode, the HAL exerts torque to compensate for frictional resistance and other forces based on the detected joint motion.
What is CVC?
CVC – Cybernic Voluntary Control
In CVC mode, HAL determines the assistance torque based on the strength of the Bioelectric signal measured via the EMG in the flexor and extensor muscles of each joint.