An advanced exoskeleton prototype, which allows users more freedom to move, has been developed by a group of Swiss sensory motor scientists.

The team of scientists from ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) is developing a system that replicates the natural kinematics of lower limbs to improve movement within the exoskeleton and to provide the user with much more freedom.

By replicating the internal and external rotation of the joints and mirroring their connections, the exoskeleton will allow users to perform movements such as walking sideways, climbing stairs and turning on the spot.

Current exoskeletons that are worn outside the body are often heavy and have ridged frames or constraints if a joint is slightly misaligned.

The researchers are hoping that the exoskeleton will be used as an alternative to a wheelchair to enable victims of spinal cord injuries, strokes and lower extremity weaknesses to walk again.

Anthony Welsh, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Cardiff office, said: “Through our work with spinal injury survivors, we know that the immediate and long-term effects of such injuries can be life changing as you may be left with severely reduced mobility.

“Many of our clients require an intensive rehabilitation programme and significant adaptations to their home in order to adapt to life post-injury. Any technology which helps spinal injury survivors have greater mobility will enhance not only their lives but that of those who care for them.

“While this system is in the early stages of development, bionic technology, including prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons, is rapidly advancing and we hope to see such life-changing devices become a reality as soon as possible.”