Exoskeletons are wearable devices which are used to enhance the physical competency of the wearer. By overcoming the physical limitations, these wearable machines assist limb movements with better strength and help the wearer perform various tasks. Exoskeletons can be powered with electric motors, actuators, pneumatics, sensors, hydraulics, levers or a combination of technologies or it can be completely passive. The use of exoskeletons to improve the quality of life of the people with mobility disorders in the medical field is on the rise. Usually, exoskeletons used in the medical field are modular and lightweight which allows the user to independently put on and remove each piece smoothly. Further, market players are coming up with exoskeletons which can be utilized by patients with spinal cord injury or rehabilitation of stroke. Exoskeleton devices are also used in mobility aids and rehabilitation patients with physical and neurological disorders. Some military class exoskeletons are powered by fuel cells, and internal combustion engine or batteries which helps military personnel to carry heavy objects and also supports and protects the human body.
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Growth in demand from the healthcare industry and significant advancements in robotic technologies are some of the key factors expected to drive the exoskeletons market over the forecast period from 2017 to 2025. Adoption of exoskeletons in the healthcare industry to treat and cure disorders such as paralysis, muscular dystrophy, and general fatigue is gaining momentum. Furthermore, use of exoskeleton devices are anticipated to grow to help the aging population especially in countries such as China and Japan. According to statistics provided in the World Population Ageing 1950-2050 report by Population Division, DESA of the United Nations, China and Japan have 12 million and 5 million people respectively of age 80 years and above. Further, in 2050, these figures are expected to reach 99 million and 17 million for China and Japan individually. Owing to this factor, expenses incurred on elder care are likely to increase, which can be reduced with the help of exoskeleton devices. Therefore, adoption of exoskeleton devices to help the elderly population with their routine activities is projected to rise in the coming years. Major technological breakthroughs by OEMs in robotic technologies are also expected to give a push to the exoskeleton market. In March 2016, Japanese multinational, Panasonic Corporation launched a pair of exoskeleton suits built with new robotic technology to be used for industrial purposes, and to help disabled people. The suits come with a motor equipped robot, created from sensors and advanced motion control technologies. High costs associated with devices and stringent government regulations pertaining to the use of exoskeletons in the medical sector are likely to be limiting factors for market growth. Implementation of exoskeletons and associated technologies in commercial health insurance plans by insurance providers presents huge opportunity for market growth.
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