ExoAtlet, a Skolkovo startup that makes medical exoskeletons for the rehabilitation of disabled people, has started clinical research into the use of its exoskeletons to help people with multiple sclerosis.

An ExoAtlet exoskeleton being demonstrated. The device helps disabled patients to walk again. Photo: Sk.ru.

The exoskeleton is a robotic suit that helps people who have lost the use of their legs to sit up and down and walk along both flat surfaces and up and down stairs. Twenty patients with multiple sclerosis are taking part in the two-month clinical research, which is being carried out at the Vladimirsky Moscow Region Science and Research Clinical Institute.

“At the moment, we can treat multiple sclerosis sufferers quite well with the help of medication, but when the disease progresses and they are unable to walk, we have not been able to help them – there are practically no rehabilitation methods for such patients,” said Dr. Sergei Kotov, who is supervising the research.

“By carrying out this research, we are trying to develop a rehabilitation method that would allow those who have lost their mobility to return to life,” he said.

There are more than 150,000 people in Russia with multiple sclerosis, with younger people increasingly affected, said Ekaterina Bereziy, the founder and CEO of ExoAtlet. The chronic degenerative disease affects the central nervous system, affecting patient’s mobility as it progresses.

“We hope that during the course of the clinical research, a new approach will be formed towards the rehabilitation of such patients, and towards helping them to retain their mobility,” said Bereziy.

ExoAtlet, which grew out of a joint project between Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry and a team of scientists from Moscow State University, has been a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster since 2014, when the project won 900,000 rubles (about $14,000) at Skolkovo’s annual Startup Village. In November last year, the foundation approved a grant of 50 million rubles ($793,000) for the second stage of development of ExoAtlet.

The company obtained state certification for its first exoskeleton in June this year, enabling the product to go on sale for use by both clinics and individuals.

“ExoAtlet’s Russian-made exoskeleton is one of the most notable and worthwhile projects of the Skolkovo Foundation, primarily due to its team, which is dynamically developing new areas in which to help patients while building a hi-tech business,” said Albert Yefimov, head of Skolkovo’s Robocentre.

“In my opinion, ExoAtlet’s successes are laying the foundations of our new industry of assistant technologies that is both creating jobs for skilled workers and producing affordable technology to enable people with special needs to be included in everyday life,” he said.

ExoAtlet also plans to develop its presence on foreign markets, and is one of 21 Skolkovo resident companies currently exhibiting its product at GITEX Technology Week in Dubai