Exoskeletons qualify for direct disability compensation in Germany

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ReWalk Robotics’ exoskeletons can help users stand upright, walk, turn and climb stairs. | Source: ReWalk Robotics

ReWalk Robotics made progress in German courts this week. BARMER announced it would accept a ruling from state courts that made exoskeletons considered eligible for direct disability compensation and withdrew its pending case at the federal level. BARMER is one of Germany’s largest statutory health insurance providers.

The ruling gives eligible, insured patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) a legal basis to use an exoskeleton as an orthopedic aid for direct disability compensation in Germany.

“We anticipate that today’s events will have immense significance for paraplegics in Germany. The precedent set by the state court is enforceable and legally binding and will help ensure that eligible individuals with spinal cord injuries have a legal basis to obtain this technology,” Professor Thomas Ratajczak, legal representative for the plaintiff in this case, said.

According to the ruling, medically eligible individuals can be provided advanced technical aids, like ReWalk Robotics’ system, regardless of previously supplied medical aids. 

“After seven years of waiting to walk in an exoskeleton, I am excited that BARMER will now provide me with a ReWalk,” the plaintiff in the case, Lars Vinken, said. “It is of great value to know that other paraplegics will now have easier access to this technology. To be supplied with an exoskeleton and be able to stand up and walk again at any time opens new horizons for me.”

ReWalk Robotics’ Personal 6.0 System is an exoskeleton designed for all-day use at home and in the community. The battery-powered system has motors at the hip and knee joints that help control movements using subtle changes in the wearer’s center of gravity. Users simply tilt their upper body forward, and the system initiates the first step. 

The system is personalized for each individual user, ensuring a precise fit and optimal safety, function and joint alignment. It can help users stand upright, walk, turn and climb and descend stairs.

“The successful conclusion of this legal dispute identifying the exoskeleton as direct disability compensation changes the landscape for the eligible paralyzed community,” Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk, said. “The German healthcare system has led the way in its adoption of exoskeletons for spinal cord injured individuals. We expect that this acceptance of the prior ruling will enable medically eligible members of the SCI community to access exoskeleton technology in a more efficient manner.”

ReWalk Robotics also offers ReStore, a lightweight soft exo-suit aimed to help individuals with lower limb disabilities due to stroke. It provides both dorsiflexion and plantarflexion assistance, which help facilitate functional gait training. 

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