The Spanish National Research Council has developed a new mobility-enhancing exoskeleton for children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy; it uses a metal frame and servos to help these children walk. Cabe Atwell of Element14:
The device weighs 26 pounds and has long support rods made from aluminum and titanium adjusted to fit around a child's legs and torso. Human muscles in the joints are mimicked by a series of motors and gives a patient the strength they need to stand upright and walk around. The device also includes a series of sensors, a movement controller, and a five hour battery to keep the juice flowing on the go. And since kids can grow at an alarming rate the device can be expanded and modified to fit kids between the ages of 3 and 14.
It's truly exciting to see these kinds of advancements. We now have the technology to begin truly helping people live more physically normal lives. As 3D printing and other Maker technologies become more commonplace, we should see an even greater acceleration of tech like this. Once we are freed from the necessities of old manufacturing models—like economics-enforced mass production—we'll be bale to easily and cheaply make nearly anything that can be imagined, on a bespoke basis, for an individual's needs.