Meet RoboFit, Australia’s First Robot-Powered Neurological Therapy Centre

Meet RoboFit, Australia’s First Robot-Powered Neurological Therapy Centre

RoboFit, a robot-powered therapy centre that operates the first neuro-responsive exoskeleton in Australia, is planning to open its second centre in Sydney.

Back in March 2021, RoboFit opened its doors in Wollongong, allowing clients to use the exoskeleton to exercise and rehabilitate their bodies.

A neuro-responsive exoskeleton, mind you, connects to the nerves across your body, giving your body robust support. This is particularly for people with neurological conditions, whose bodies need to be supported.

One of the centre’s operators, Daniel Hillyer, says the technology changed his life after he was diagnosed with quadriplegia. Doctors told him that he wouldn’t be able to move from the neck down.

Maryanne Harris, his wife, has a degree in exercise science, and after Hillyer’s diagnosis, they ended up forming a partnership with Japanese company Cyberdyne to form RoboFit.

While over in Japan, Hillyer performed HAL (hybrid assisted limb) training in a Cyberdyne exoskeleton. The BBC has a great video on the technology.

“We saw huge improvements in my standing balance, walking gait and speed in just 21 days of 2 hours per day training in the exoskeleton using a treadmill and overground practice, I was able to walk 10m supported prior to my HAL training in Japan,” Hillyer said.

“After our experience of travelling to Japan multiple times to access these devices because there wasn’t anything like it in Australia, we knew it was something we had to do and bring the devices here to Australia for our community to access in a community-based setting.”

The centre was originally formed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted the ability of clients to access it.

“We took the time through lockdowns to train our team members on using the devices and incorporating it as a tool into client sessions and build a successful training program for clients,” Hillyer added.

Now, RoboFit says that it has a waitlist of eager clients all across Australia that are excited to use the technology.

RoboFit is planning on opening a second centre in Sydney over the coming months. A similar centre is also being established at the University of Canberra Hospital, using a different exoskeleton.

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