A medical exoskeleton, also known as a wearable robot, is a robotic machine suite worn by humans in place of their limbs to complement, substitute, and enhance human functions. It helps in physical movements by offering increased strength and endurance.
The Global Medical Exoskeleton Market is projected to reach USD 571.6 million, at a CAGR of 37.4% during the forecast period.
Opportunity: Introduction of soft actuators
Currently, the medical exoskeletons industry is focusing on developing soft exoskeletons (without electronic motors and heavy batteries), which augment normal muscle function in healthy individuals for commercial use. Currently, these exoskeletons are available only for research purposes. Such exoskeletons have soft actuators that can be easily driven by an off-board compressor.
Soft exoskeletons are attached to the body securely and comfortably and transmit forces over the body through beneficial paths such that biologically appropriate moments are created at the joints. Compared to traditional exoskeletons, these exoskeletons are ultra-light-weight and have low mechanical impedance and inertia. The use of soft actuators has led to the development of inexpensive gait-supportive exoskeletons, creating opportunities for new players in the industry.
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Lower extremity medical exoskeletons are expected to dominate the market.
By extremity, the market is segmented into lower extremity medical exoskeletons and upper extremity medical exoskeletons. In 2018, lower extremity medical exoskeletons segment is expected to account for the largest share of the global medical exoskeleton market. Lower extremity exoskeletons provide stability to paralyzed and geriatric patients and offer weight-bearing and locomotion capabilities. As a result, they are more widely adopted for rehabilitation applications.
The mobile segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period
Based on mobility, the medical exoskeleton market is segmented into mobile and stationary exoskeletons. The mobile segment is expected to register the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The growth of this segment can be attributed to the high demand for compact, light-weight mobile medical exoskeletons that can offer mobility assistance to paralyzed patients.
- In August 2018, Bionik Laboratories integrated Amazon’s Echo (“Echo”) technology and Alexa Voice Service (“Alexa”) for ARKE lower-body exoskeleton
- In March 2018, CYBERDYNE and Brooks Rehabilitation (US) established a joint venture company called CYBERDYNE & BROOKS, Inc. (C&B). C&B opened the Brooks Cybernic Treatment Center (“BCTC”) and commenced its sales operation to spread HAL for Medical Use Lower Limb Type (“Medical HAL”) to all parts of the US. This will help the company to expand its business in the US with a vast network and patient pool of the Brooks Rehabilitation Center.
- In July 2017, ReWalk entered into an agreement with Harmonie Médical Service (France). Under the agreement, Harmonie Médical Service will facilitate the distribution of ReWalk systems to the spinal cord injured (SCI) community. This will help the company to grow its market in France.
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North America is expected to dominate the market followed by Europe. The large share of this geographical segment is attributed to the growing geriatric population, increasing demand for self-assist exoskeletons, growing number of spinal cord injuries (SCI), and the high prevalence of stroke in the region.
The major players in the market are Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc. (US), ReWalk Robotics Ltd (Israel), Parker Hannifin Corp (US), Bionik Laboratories Corp (Canada), CYBERDYNE Inc. (Japan), Rex Bionics Ltd. (UK), B-TEMIA Inc. (Canada), Hocoma AG (A Subsidiary of DIH Technologies) (Switzerland), Wearable Robotics SRL (Italy), Gogoa Mobility Robots SL (Spain), and ExoAtlet, O.O.O. (Russia).