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Turkish "robotic" device helps paraplegics stand: Could it replace wheelchairs?

Yusuf Akturkogl uses the Tek RMD to peruse books at the store. Tek RMD

(CBS News) A new device may change the way paraplegic people get around.

The Tek Robotic Mobilization Device allows people not only to get into the device without aid, but helps them stand upright so they can do a variety of everyday tasks without assistance.

How does it work?

The person enters from the back of the device so they don't have to swing themselves into a chair, which can prove to be dangerous especially on wheelchairs that move easily. Using a suspension system and a thick padded strap, the user can easily pull himself or herself to "standing" position, sit on actual furniture and do a lot of things that people who have the function of their limbs take for granted.

"We've developed a device that enables paralyzed people to move through narrow passages, sit on a chair like you and I do, use the washrooms that we use, wash their hands and do their own shopping. It provides them with the opportunity to live in places not designed for paralyzed people," Necati Hacikadiroglu, the inventor of the the TEX Robotic Device, told Reuters.

The robotic device is only 14 inches wide and 24.5 inches long, making it easier to get through narrow spaces, and is well-balanced to prevent the user from tipping over. And, because the machine supports the weight of the individual when they are standing upright, they can use their hands unlike other canes, walkers and braces. It can even be controlled remotely, so the person won't have to ask for help to get the device when they get out bed in the morning.

Gizmodo reports that many of these abilities that most of us take for granted every day are essential to the emotional well-being of paraplegic people

According to the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health with the University of North Carolina, depression -- an illness that affects 17 million Americans each year -- is an especially big problem for people with a physical disability. The organization claims that studies have shown that disabled individuals may be two to ten times more likely to develop depression, and depression is the most common "secondary condition" associated with disability. Giving paraplegic people the ability to have more control over their lives and do "normal" tasks might help.

The device costs about $52,668. According to Gizmodo, it will be on sale in Turkey this week, but the company is still looking for retailers in Europe and the U.S.

Tek RMD Introduction / Long Vesion from Tek RMC on Vimeo.

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