Boston sports icon Bob Lobel steps forward in AlterG's bionic leg

May 28, 2013 by Sony Salzman

Bob Lobel, Boston sports icon, takes steps in AlterG's bionic leg


Boston sports icon Bob Lobel, 69, faced a rough road to recovery after his 2008 diagnosis of spinal stenosis, a condition that slowly weakens both legs. After several back surgeries and a few rough falls, the legendary sportscaster said he's determined to walk freely again using AlterG's Bionic Leg.

The device wraps around injured limbs to provide external support as muscles re-gain strength. The $40,000 Bionic Leg was developed by a California-based company called Tibion BioTech Technologies, which was bought by AlterG.

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Lobel told the Boston Herald that he enjoys using the machine as a rehab tool, even if it's a bit "weird." The exoskeleton responds to patients movements and compensates for weakness, allowing immobile people to practice walking and climbing stairs.

Lobel is undergoing physical therapy at the Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Westboro. With a combination of water workouts, weight training and a Bionic Leg, Lobel hopes to one day ditch his wheelchair and crutches.

On May 8, the Bionic Leg won the Entrepreneurship Award at the annual International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Tibion founder Robert Horst accepted the award for his brain-child, which he began developing more than 10 years ago after a knee surgery.