A moment of Glee for Argo Medical



By: NICKY BLACKBURN  
Published: December 13th 2010
in Economics » Israel

Artie Abrams, played by actor Kevin McHale, steps out for the first time.
Pic: Israel21C

The exoskeleton has a moving story of its own. It was the brainchild of an Israeli electrical engineer, Dr. Amit Goffer who was left quadriplegic after an accident. He decided to develop a system that allows wheelchair users to walk, climb stairs and meet the world on the same level.

 

After intensive rehabilitation, Goffer began developing the ReWalk prototype in his home, funding it privately and with a Tnufa - Startup Promotion Program grant. He later entered the Technion Incubator, TechnionSeed for a two-year stint and got financing from VC funds, Vitalife, ProSeed, TechnionSeed, the Technion R&D Foundation, and the Office of the Chief Scientist.

 

"What we want to do is have the person wake up in the morning, put on clothes, put on the ReWalk, go to work and go throughout the day, wearing it," Goffer, the founder and director of Argo, told ISRAEL21c in 2008.

 

Now based in Yokneam in Israel's north, the company's target market is the community of wheelchair users in the Western world, of which 300,000 are spinal cord injury sufferers (125,000 in the US and 175,000 in ROW) who are physically able to use crutches as a stabilizing tool.

 

Mad About You star, mad about ReWalk

 

Aside from the massive press interest, the ReWalk has also attracted the interest of other Hollywood stars. In April 2009, Paul Reiser, the star of 1990s hit TV show Mad About You, saw ISRAEL21c's article and was intrigued enough to follow it up with a visit to the company with his family.

 

While ReWalk holds out hope for thousands of people, sadly the man who devised the system still cannot benefit from his own invention. Goffer has partial use of his hands, but it is not enough to operate the ReWalk.

 

In his interview with ISRAEL21c in 2008, Goffer said: "This isn't the first company I've founded. My incentive to develop it was a business opportunity. When I was injured the first thing I was offered was the only thing: a wheelchair. I do believe that in the future, in many cases, the ReWalk - or its competition - might be offered. I don't see any reason for the wheelchair to be the sole solution. There hasn't been a real change [in the technology] for centuries.

 

"We're taking a safe business approach, starting with paraplegics, and the time for a quadriplegic like me will come," he added.

 

Back at Glee, some attribute the generous present to Artie as a present from Beast, the high school football coach. Others are calling it a Christmas miracle.

Related articles: (Argo Medical, Glee, )
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