The ReWalk, a motorized exoskeleton that enables wheelchair users with permanent lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk and climb stairs, received FDA approval for institutional use in January. Researchers returned to the government agency last month seeking approval for personal use, but were turned down, said Howard Brand, who distributes the product through the New Jersey-based Allied Orthotics and Prosthetics. Brand said officials from Argo Medical Technologies, Inc., the Israeli company that makes the machine, are confident that they'll secure the approval within 18 months.
ReWalk is one of more than 800 projects that have been supported by the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation since it was established in 1977 to "generate mutually beneficial cooperation between the private sectors of the U.S. and Israeli high-tech industries."
In addition to Esquenazi, the AICC honored three other doctors for health-related collaborations between Israel and the Greater Philadelphia region: Dr. Banu Onaral, director of the School of Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University; Harry Lukens, senior vice president and chief information officer at Lehigh Valley Health Network; and Dr. David Nash, dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health. The honors came at a recent conference sponsored by AICC in partnership with the Jefferson School.
The gathering brought Israeli research and development firms together with U.S. businesses to develop and market health care technology. Howard Joffe, an AICC board member, said fostering Israel's role in the U.S. health care system is a must.
"Israel's long-term durability and strength will be based on business investment and commerce," he said.