An unspoken division is slowly happening in the disability community right now and we have exoskeletons to blame. The question is simple: Would you or wouldn’t you use an exoskeleton?
The prospect of strapping on metal, computer chips and plastic parts to get up and start walking again isn’t exactly the “miracle” cure most people have in mind when they think about getting cured (well it wasn’t, until recently that is).
But if you’ve waited for years like so many of us have to walk again (most of us have waited so long we’ve forgotten what it’s like to walk) your indifference to using man-made materials to walk again can begin to dissipate. Amanda Boxtel, this groom who just got married, all the spinal cord injured representatives of Esko Bionics, each of these individuals prove there’s a lot of us out there who will take any type of walking-solution that comes our way. It’s better than nothing, they say? Or is it?
Then you have the group of wheelers who want nothing to do with this walking-technology. “Becoming a robot” (the common criticism used to describe it) isn’t something a lot of people envision for themselves. It never sits right. I think I can closely relate to this camp too. I’ll find myself thinking, “If I can’t feel my legs, do I even want to walk? Is it safe?” Or maybe….I’m judging it too harshly?
Maybe if exoskeletons were more streamlined and less bulky (you could wear them underneath your clothes) I would feel differently, but as the current technology stands – hellooooo I’m coming into the room look at meee! – wearing something like this on a daily basis would make me feel very un-human. Very.
I prefer to show skin, not gears. This is not the solution I’ve been waiting for.
What do you say? Will you robot-ify yourself to get full mobility, or are you planning on waiting for the real thing?