The machine allows paraplegics – those without the use of their legs – to perform everyday tasks far more easily from shopping in the supermarket to ironing.
The Tek Robotic Mobilisation Device was developed by a team in Turkey and has already transformed the life of Yusuf Akturkoglu who was selected to test it.
The 27-year-old lost the use of his legs after falling from a horse five years ago.
He said: ‘It’s wonderful to stand up because we spend our lives sitting. We can stand up if somebody helps and that happens once a day or maybe twice, if somebody is around. If not, we don’t get up. But by using this device, I can get up whenever I want.
‘This device helps me to get mobilised. I can go to the kitchen and do whatever I want. I feel free.’
Regular wheelchairs can only be front-mounted. Whenever a user has to get off a toilet or bed they must lift their body with their arms and throw themselves onto their wheelchairs. It’s difficult to complete without assistance and is sometimes dangerous.
The Tek offers few such difficulties. It can be summoned by remote control and users strap themselves in before hoisting themselves into a standing position with relative ease. They then navigate using a remote control.
The Tek was devised by Istanbul-based research and development company AMS Mekatronic. At just over 1ft wide and 2ft long it is very compact. It’s rechargeable and must be charged every three days.
The inventor Necati Hacikadiroglu, told Reuters: ‘We’ve developed a device that enables paralysed people to move through narrow passages, sit on a chair like you and I do, use the washrooms that we use, wash their hands and do their own shopping.
‘It provides them with the opportunity to live in places not designed for paralysed people.’
The product has undergone clinical trials and is being praised by doctors. They say it can help prevent unwanted health problems faced by most paralysed people, such as pressure sores, diabetes, and heart disease through poor circulation.
Commercial sales are some way off, but Yusuf says he hopes to be reading about the Tek in the not too distant future.