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Astana, Kazakhstan • 25 May, 2022 | 15:49

Exoskeletons Made In Kazakhstan to Help Children With Disabilities

Charity organizations funded 21 exoskeletons manufactured in Kazakhstan

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The Cyberfund charitable foundation first financed the creation of eight exoskeletons, then was later joined by the Qazaqstan Halqyna Foundation, which in turn, allocated 117 million tenge to purchase 13 exoskeletons produced by Kazakh company MBionics, reports.

Exoskeletons are robotic devices for children with musculoskeletal disorders. They are considered a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of people who cannot walk.

The Fund "Qazaqstan Halqyna" has received more than 300 applications from parents of young patients with the diseases associated with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paraplegia, muscular dystrophy, Rett syndrome and other diseases. The decision on whether a patient needs an exoskeleton is made by the multidisciplinary group, which was created on the basis of the National Center for Pediatric Rehabilitation.

The exoskeletons are manufactured by the domestic company MBionics founded by Maulen Bekturganov,. The means of rehabilitation are designed in cooperation with the Astana Medical University. Now this company has orders until the end of the year. In total, they need to produce 21 exoskeletons. The difficulty is that this is not mass production. Each exoskeleton, which weighs 25 kilograms, is designed individually, taking into account the parameters of the child.

"The very concept of our foundation provides for the development of technology in Kazakhstan, so we don't have to import it from abroad. A local manufacturer can always provide service, or service repair if required. Plus, of course, the difference in the final cost is huge. If Kazakh exoskeletons cost 9 million tenge, a similar skeleton made in Russia would cost 35 million tenge. This is due to the fact that our manufacturer has no commercial orientation, but is engaged in social entrepreneurship. There is a margin, which covers some administrative costs, but there is no goal to get rich." 

Timur Akimeev, the Cyberfund's ambassador

According to the Foundation estimates, there are about 2,500 children in Kazakhstan with locomotor apparatus problems. Many of them are contraindicated because wearing an exoskeleton can lead to additional disability. But those to whom doctors recommend them may get a chance to learn to walk.

"In the early days of using exoskeletons, accompaniment is required. There are different cases and diagnoses, but our goal is to restore locomotor function so that a person can walk again independently without an exoskeleton. That is our goal. We have our own production, we, a team of programmers, engineers, electronic engineers, designers, are involved in the development and production ourselves."

Maulen Bekturganov, director of MBionics

Now four exoskeletons are being assembled in the workshop. The first installment (half of the cost of four exoskeletons) from the Fund "Qazaqstan Halqyna" was received just a week ago, and by the end of August or early September, they are expected to be completed. Each exoskeleton is designed individually, because each person has an individual hip and shin length. Everyone has their own algorithm for walking, depending on the diagnosis and peculiarities, hip and knee flexion angle and bending speed. The frame for attaching the person to the exoskeleton is also made individually.

All participants in the project are convinced that this is only the beginning, and it will give many Kazakhstanis the opportunity to learn to walk independently.

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