The Cionic Neural Sleeve by Cionic
Thirty-five million Americans with mobility challenges such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke and spinal cord injuries could soon benefit from an invention called the Cionic Neural Sleeve. The sleeve, designed to be worn on the leg, is sometimes referred to as “bionic clothing.”
Developed by Jeremiah Robison, founder and CEO of the San Francisco startup company Cionic, and the father of a girl with CP, the neural sleeve makes it easier for individuals with gait impairments to walk more fluidly and more securely.
Robison, who had worked in the technology sector for many years, was inspired to invent the sleeve to help his daughter Sofia. As he told Carolyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle, “I had enough knowledge and a huge motivation to say, ‘Since nothing is available for my daughter, if not me, who? If not now, when?’”
The leg sleeve is “embedded with sensors, that [monitor the wearer’s] movements, and electrodes that stimulate [the wearer’s] muscles to activate as needed,” writes Said.
It is sold with a small rechargeable battery-operated device that fits inside a pocket built into the sleeve.
“That device communicates with an app on the wearer’s smartphone that allows the user to customize stimulation settings and offers exercises to help increase strength and reinforce motor learning.”
One of the advantages of the neural sleeve is that it can be used by people with a range of motor impairments. The sleeve works on the shin, calf, hamstring or quad. Remote training and “fine tuning” are offered by Cionic’s mobility specialists.
In addition to the physical benefits provided by the neural sleeve, it also provides emotional advantages. Says the inventor’s 13-year-old daughter Sofia Robison, who walks with the sleeve: “For me, just being the one left behind (because she’s slower than friends) can be mentally really difficult. Helping people not be the one left behind can be really important. ”
The neural sleeve is expected to be released to the public in early 2023 and Cionic has already received FDA approval and state licensing. At first, it will only be available for adult use. Following its release, the sleeve will be sold at the introductory price of $200 per month. After a year, the sleeve becomes the property of the buyer. Since it is so new, Robison says that insurers are unlikely to provide coverage in the near future.
People interested in receiving a Cionic Neural Sleeve can add their names to the waitlist on Cionic’s website at cionic.com.