“The demand for rehabilitation robots is very high as societies around the world are aging,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. in Tokyo, who says he is considering buying Cyberdyne shares.
A 54-year-old paraplegic, strapped into a white exoskeleton made by Cyberdyne, recently walked slowly forward — covering about a foot — during rehab at Fukuoka University Hospital before collapsing on his physiotherapist. The suit he used has been approved for use as a medical device in Europe, and Cyberdyne said it may seek clearance this month to sell the product in the U.S.
Widespread use of the Cyberdyne device is some distance away. It is presently used in 170 hospitals and nursing homes across Japan, and it costs about 1.8 million yen ($17,700) annually to lease each suit. While founder Yoshiyuki Sankai’s ambition is to make the robots cheap enough for home use, he doesn’t have a specific time frame. For now, a Cyberdyne rehab center south of Tokyo makes them available to individuals at 10,000 yen ($98) per 60-minute training session.