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NZ-made bionic legs a global sensation

Published: 6:18PM Friday July 16, 2010 Source: ONE News

The story of the robotic exo-skeleton legs invented in New Zealand to help paraplegics walk is capturing imaginations across the globe.

The makers of the world's first bionic legs, which let paraplegics walk again, have been overwhelmed with interest since unveiling their invention yesterday.
 
Wheelchair user Dan Buckingham calls the invention, named Rex, brilliant.

"It's another tool for people with disabilities to be able to access in a world that's not quite accessible to all."

Buckingham has been in a chair for nearly 11 years and while he is excited by the technology, he is cautious about the message it sends.

"There's often a perception created that life in a wheelchair is people tucked at home waiting for breakthroughs to happen and waiting for life to continue, when the reality is people just get on with life."

In just 24 hours, the YouTube clip of Rex has become the most watched in the country. And while there are similar prototypes, Rex's makers say their's is the first to let paraplegics stand unaided.

They say they have been flooded with interest.

"The largest number of inquiries is from potential users which is fantastic. There's also a lot of inquiries from health professionals, there's a lot of inquiries from people who'd like to work for us," says Rex Bionics chief executive Jenny Morel.

Rex Bionics deny reports they have been contacted by the American military but they are not ruling out that market.

"If there are military people who've been wounded and as a result are spinal cord injured, they're like any other Rex user and we'd certainly like to talk to those people."
 
But at $US150,000 a pop, it's a purchase that needs thinking about.

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