Some have dubbed Abilitech’s device “a wheelchair for the arms.” Its machined aluminum exoskeletal arm and breathable cloth vest use a spring counterbalance system and a “living hinge” that spreads the load, making it — and the arm — feel weightless.
Nancy Crotti, Managing Editor
Rob Wudlick brushed his teeth on his own recently for the first time in 8 years.
The 35-year-old industrial engineer is a quadriplegic as a result of an accident. He’s been working for three years as a consultant to Abilitech Medical (St. Paul, Minn.), a startup whose Abilitech Assist device enables wearers to use their arms to feed themselves, brush their teeth, comb their hair, turn on a light switch, open doors — activities for which they’ve needed help from caregivers.
Before founding Abilitech in 2016, CEO Angie Conley was working for a nonprofit called Magic Arms, which was trying to develop a 3D-printed device powered by rubber bands for children with a congenital joint contracture called arthrogryposis. When she joined Magic Arms, the device was in the prototype phase, fundraising for further development was difficult and the nonprofit had not fit any patients.