The Dead Sea, from the land that inspired the latest “hi-tech” disability innovation

The Dead Sea, from the land that inspired the latest “hi-tech” disability innovation
Photo by: Paul Segal (Stock Exchange)

Hello, all! Today’s Disabled Travelers blog post is a special one: I’m excited about a piece I saw on the news and I’d like to make everybody here aware of it. Though Disabled Travelers caters to the whole handicapped travel community, it’s no surprise much of what we talk about helps folks with mobility problems: about 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from mobility issues, which can be caused by a variety of injuries, chronic illnesses, and changes associated with age. Of those, over a million use a wheelchair!

Well, I came across something that just might be good news for many of those folks …

It’s unheard of for me to post videos, since they can disappear with time. I definitely don’t like to endorse products, either, unless I’ve used them myself or gotten the good word from a close friend or a reader. That said, this week I’m going to break all my rules. Friends, countrymen, disabled travelers and travel companions, get a load of this:

Now, don’t get too excited yet. As Engadget points out in its article on the subject, the ReWalk is extraordinarily expensive for now; sources have put it between $50,000 and $100,000 per unit. That said, it is an incredibly sleek device – the backpack is about six pounds – and the health implications are enormous: a fuller range of motion could help with all sorts of issues related to muscular atrophy.

Even in the year or so since I’ve been writing the Disabled Travelers blog, we’ve seen a lot of outstanding innovations in barrier-free travel. It’s not a “niche” or a “specialty” anymore, but a growing, vibrant segment of the travel industry that serves millions of people every year. Maybe I’m a little too optimistic, but in my mind it’s only a matter of time before more technology like the ReWalk is out there. Someday, maybe soon, we could be seeing this as a rental option for mobility impaired access around the world.

The Food and Drug Administration just approved the ReWalk for use in the U.S., a major procedural hurtle that means it’s only a matter of time before it starts to show up at healthcare and rehabilitation centers throughout the United States. I’ll be watching this story closely alongside our usual travel coverage, which will continue next week with our long-awaited first ever post on wheelchair access and handicapped travel in China. Until then, adventure on, and keep smiling! As we’ve seen just about everywhere we’ve gone, amazing new things are happening every day …


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