Business Medical

Rex Bionics: New Applications and Markets

Left to Right: Rex Bionics Company Logo; REX Exoskeleton:; REX:, REX climbing stairs:; Dave MacCalman with REX:
Left to Right: REX Exoskeleton: / / /

The New Zealand exoskeleton company Rex Bionics, developer of the REX exoskeleton suit, has made two major announcements in the past few weeks:  First, the company is exploring using their robotic legs for temporarily-disabled individuals to fight muscle dystrophy while bedridden.  Second, Rex Bionics is entering into the Hong Kong and larger mainland China market.

Who Is Rex Bionics?

Rex Bionics Company LogoRex Bionics is based in New Zealand and is a company exclusively dedicated to the development of lower extremities exoskeletons for disabled individuals.  It was founded in 2003 by Richard Little and Robert Irving who were both familiar with the complications of prolonged wheel chair use.  According to the Edison Research Notes (link below) Rex Bionics has 32 employees: 10 in manufacturing, 9 R&D, 6 Sales and Marketing, and 7 Corporate and Administration.  There are 14 Rex exoskeletons currently in circulation.  Rex Bionics usually gets overshadowed in the media by the larger mobility exoskeleton businesses: Ekso Bionics, ReWalk, Lockheed Martin and CYBERDYNE (for more, see list of exoskeleton companies).

Rex Bionics CEO on rising demand for robotic legs in patient recovery, One-2-One Interview by ProactiveInvestors Stocktube
REX exoskeleton, source:

How The REX Exoskeleton Differs

From their first prototype, Rex Bionics have concentrated on making their exoskeletons “hands free”.  Unlike other devices, the users do not use crutches and the exoskeleton is fully responsible for maintaining the balance of the operator.  The REX suit can stand, walk, turn, side step, move backwards and climb stairs without additional support.  The suit can be fitted in 5 minutes and unlike other exoskeletons it can be used by customers with complete spinal cord injury, up to the C4/5 level.  While all of these characteristics put the REX way in front of the competition the REX is very slow and is not well suited for gradual rehabilitation as the suit takes complete control over walking.

Exoskeletons For Temporarily Bed-Bound Patients

On May 6th, 2015 Rex Bionics and The University Hospitals, Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the use of REX in a Critical Care setting.  According to the announcement (link below), the muscle mass of bedridden patients decreases between 2-4% a day during the first two weeks being in an intensive care unit.  Studies have shown that early mobilization of patients results in lower hospital length of stay and mortality rates.  The REX is the most inherently stable and self-sufficient of all of the commercially available powered exoskeletons.   The REX can be used to take patients that temporarily can’t walk and put them upright and get them moving again.  Clinical trials on this application are set to start as early as 2016.  If successful, this could be a brand new way to introduce exoskeletons into the medical field.

Rex P,
Rex P,

Going Into Hong Kong and Mainland China

Rex Bionics has begun collaborating with Deltason Medical to launch the REX into Hong Kong and China. Deltason specializes in rehabilitation aids with a speciality in clinical and personal neuro-rehabilitation.  This means that the REX can now be sold in the US, European and Asian markets for clinical use, and Europe and Asia for personal use.

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