Inventor of World's Most Advanced Medical-Use Exoskeleton Receives Good Shepherd Hall of Fame Award4/13/2009
Yoshiyuki Sankai, Ph.D., Made First U.S. Appearance with the Device
Allentown, PA – Yoshiyuki Sankai, Ph.D., inventor of the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), presented an inservice for employees of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network on Monday, April 13. The event, which was held at the Good Shepherd Health & Technology Center, 850 South 5th Street, Allentown, marked Dr. Sankai’s first public discussion of his state-of-the-art exoskeleton in the United States. At a private dinner following the inservice, Dr. Sankai received the Good Shepherd Hall of Fame award.
The Good Shepherd Hall of Fame award originally was designed to honor national heroes with disabilities who overcame their challenges and inspired hope and optimism throughout the country. The criteria for the award were expanded several years ago to include extraordinary men and women who dedicate their talents to designing assistive technologies and improving the lives of people with disabilities. Previous recipients include Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway® Personal Transporter and the iBOT® Mobility System, Ray Kurzweil, prolific author and futurist, and John Abele, founder chairman of Boston Scientific.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Sankai to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network,” said Sally Gammon , F.A.C.H.E., president and CEO. “Dr. Sankai is the latest in a long line of innovators and thought leaders who have visited Good Shepherd to share their expertise. We are proud to share Dr. Sankai’s mission of improving independence for people with disabilities through technology.”
The HAL is a revolutionary medical-use exoskeleton for people with disabilities and their caregivers. When a person tries to move an arm or a leg, signals are sent from the brain to the appropriate muscle. For people with disabilities, these brain signals are often very weak, making it difficult to move. The HAL intercepts these brain signals through sensors and robotically helps the muscles move. Essentially, the exoskeleton interprets the intention of the wearer and augments his or her muscle movement.
“The HAL exoskeleton is one of the world’s most advanced assistive technologies,” said John Grencer, administrative manager of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s Harry C. Trexler Center for Assistive Technology. “Not only does it have the potential to improve independence for people with disabilities, but it also can help caregivers and health-care professionals by augmenting their strength and allowing them to more easily transfer patients between their beds, wheelchairs or vehicles.”
Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is a Center of Excellence in the early adoption and use of assistive and rehabilitation technologies to improve independence and quality of life for people with functional limitations and disabilities. This reputation is one of the reasons that Dr. Sankai chose Good Shepherd to discuss his groundbreaking technology.
Dr. Sankai is a professor in the Graduate School of Systems & Information Engineering at the University of Tsukubam, Japan, and president and CEO of Cyberdyne, Inc . He is an esteemed innovator and businessman, having received several prestigious awards, including the World Technology Award (2005), the Good Design Gold Award (2006), the Japan Innovator Award (2006), an award from the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (2007) and an award from the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy of Japan (2007).