First Ukrainian Bionic Exoskeleton “Pilgrim-I”

During the topical week “UA HEALTHCARE: MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES”, Ukraine’s Pavilion was proud to present the first Ukrainian bionic exoskeleton “Pilgrim-I” developed by Oleksandr Kulyk MD and his team.

The principle of biological feedback used as a basis for the skeleton provides the best opportunity for immobilized patients to overcome their physical handicap and achieve maximum mobility.

“The most powerful ideas are born at the intersection of various professions, sciences and visions. Combining potent accomplishments from various fields that, nevertheless, speak the same scientific language, often leads to a revolution in more than one.

We were very aware of this and, thus, decided to use advanced engineering technologies, IT, 3D-modeling, CAD in our medical practice in order to create energy efficient devices that would compensate irreversible mobility deficiency and restore the patient’s mobility.   

We rejected the idea of a device that would turn immobilized patients into mere “passengers” in the vein of wheelchairs or current orthosis systems, while trapping them in iron and plastic that would still be “killing” them albeit slowly and quietly.

We focused on creating a device that could turn the patient into the master of their own movements, based on the technology that transforms their biopotential into “commands” for their own legs.

While the idea itself is not a new one, the solutions indeed are. And that is how our bionic exoskeleton “Pilgrim-I” was born. Its key advantage is that it not only ensures the movement but, crucially, the sensation that the patients themselves make their own motions. This could lead to the erasure of the main barrier between the man and the machine. The barrier in this case means the fear of being controlled by the machine, especially when a person has limited mobility.

When the patient or their family come to a rehabilitation specialist they always hope for a full recovery of lost functions, regardless of the severity of trauma or the patient’s state.

We are constantly bombarded by the news of scientific accomplishments in the 21st century followed by advertisements and various marketing ploys. This avalanche of information creates a narrative of the doctors’ omnipotence, which in turn makes the patients believe that medicine must always have some means to overcome a disability or consequences of a trauma. Unfortunately, these patients’ hopes are often crushed. Not all that was broken can be fixed even after a long rehabilitation process. In such cases only one thing remains: finding an efficient way of compensating the loss of a certain function in order to restore the patient’s quality of life as much as possible. No loss is as severe as the inability to move. Likewise, nothing restores the patient’s will to live as much as being given back their mobility. That implies not just making limited movements, but walking freely!

We intend to shift the paradigm in Ukraine. Instead of creating a so-called “accessible environment” (ramps, handrails etc) with all of its flaws, we want to provide the special needs people with special devices and medical gadgets that would allow them to have access everywhere. A new medical cybermarket must be created. We are witnessing the beginning of a new age”, says Oleksandr Kulyk, the inventor of the exoskeleton.