Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

HANK — Result In Brief

Project ID: 699796
Country: Spain
Domain: Society, Industrial Technologies

Getting up from the wheelchair

Time to ditch the wheelchair? The HANK exoskeleton is set to provide people suffering from acquired brain damage and physical impairments with the chance to stand, walk and even climb, all on their own!
Getting up from the wheelchair
Funded under the EU H2020 programme, project HANK designed, produced and will soon implement an exoskeleton that would assist survivors of neurological injuries, mainly strokes, with their gait rehabilitation process.

Weighing in at only 12 kg, the exoskeleton is primarily comprised of aluminum 7075, with various levels of flexibility, resulting in a light yet robust wearable device. Built specifically for the lower limb region, HANK can assist patients approximately 1.50-1.95 m in height with a maximum weight of 100 kg, to independence from wheelchair use. Utilising unique motorised ankle functions, users will be able to autonomously perform tasks such as standing, walking and turning and sitting.

Taking over the market

Coordinated by Gogoa Mobility Robots S.L., in association with three other participants from Spain, France and Italy, HANK was an industry-oriented project from its inception, with the aim of achieving certain core targets. The fundamental goal states Gogoa founding partner Mr Carlos Fernandez Isoird, was to “design a product that adapts to real patients and their user needs, mainly usability and functionality.”

Next, it was necessary to ensure a sustainable production process with qualified suppliers and place the HANK exoskeleton brand, as well as Gogoa, in a competitive position within its target market. Following certified clinical and validation trials, HANK is on the way to acquiring the CE mark as a medical device, an essential step for product homologation.

Hurdling over some obstacles

The main challenge encountered, according to Isoird, was cooperation with the official certification bodies, given that the HANK exoskeleton was classified as a class 2A medical device. All components, including the exoskeleton electronics therefore had to be redesigned according to the evaluative standards to ensure eligibility of the product for acquisition of the CE mark for the device.

An all-round success

With the project having finished in February 2018, the coordinators can claim to have achieved all their initial targets. Following the construction of twenty exoskeletons prototypes and successful testing of two of then, the production of a pre-series of HANK devices has been initiated.

Isoird claims that “aside from possessing a ready product, we have a company positioned in the market as the first European manufacturer of rehabilitation exoskeletons.” The clinical trials developed throughout HANK’s duration have effectively demonstrated the benefits of using the exoskeleton for gait rehabilitation, specifically amongst stroke patients.

Going global

Naturally, following the project’s successful conclusion, the next step is commercialisation. Investors are needed to address the market with guaranties and there are already plans for expansion into the Japanese and American markets, once FDA approval is gained.

There are around 80 million people globally who use wheelchairs daily and the WHO has projected that by 2020, approximately 30 million people yearly could suffer a stroke at any given time. Rehabilitation using robotic technology will offer patients with limited mobility an alternative solution to wheelchairs, enabling them to perform tasks independently and could significantly accelerate the walking recovery process of stroke survivors.

Keywords

HANK, exoskeleton, rehabilitation, stroke, device
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