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Interview with Matthew Marino (CEO Prime Performance LLC): People behind the Exoskeleton Industry

In this series of short interviews, we introduce you to the people behind the great companies in the exoskeleton world. If you want to successfully implement an industrial exoskeleton in your business, you have to pay attention to two points:

1. Choosing the right solution, respectively a solution that is the right fit to the requirements from all 75+ industrial solutions and not the solution that is advertised with the biggest marketing budget.

2. The properly trained and accompanied implementation in the company, so that the solutions are also sustainably intrinsically motivated.

Which solution is the right one is therefore only decided on the basis of technical details, but also which company is trusted to do this. For trust someone, you have to learn a little bit more about the people behind. This is the case because we are doing this interviews.

In these interviews, we introduce you to the people behind the companies, patents and inventions to get to know them better and to understand the drive behind the vision even better.

In this episode we talk to Matthew Marino (CEO Prime Performance LLC)

Thank you for the inverview, Matt!

mathew marino Contact Data
Interview with Matthew Marino (CEO Prime Performance LLC): People behind the Exoskeleton Industry 2


1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Matt Marino. I am an owner of Prime Performance, a concierge Physical Therapy clinic and performance center in Portland Oregon. In the clinic and gym I am a sport scientist, strength and conditioning coach, and Physical Therapist. This is also where I work with medical exoskeletons. I am also an owner of Evolving Innovation, a consulting firm specializing in the areas of workplace ergonomics, health and safety. This is where I work with occupational exoskeletons and other emerging workplace safety technology like wearable sensors, computer vision, VR, AI, drones, and telematics. When it comes to exoskeletons, I use them myself for physically demanding work. I help patients with exoskeletons for rehabilitation. I help companies explore, match, pilot and implement exoskeletons for injury prevention, risk reduction, performance optimization, and return to work. I help exoskeleton companies with their design, testing and implementation efforts. I enjoy doing exoskeleton research. I contribute to the development of exoskeleton standards with ASTM International. I am a Founding Partner of the ASTM Exo Technology Center of Excellence, and I am a Co-Chair on the Board of the Automotive Exoskeleton Group (AExG). I help people and companies solve problems, get things done, and optimize.

2. What, when and where was your first contact with exoskeletons?

I became interested in medical exoskeletons in 2011 when my son was born. He has Cerebral Palsy. Back then there really were no exoskeletons available, so I followed the research for several years. I began working hands-on with exoskeletons in 2015, conducting trials and pilots for a large wholesale and retail trade sector client. I started with StrongArm V22 and FLx devices in 2015 then transitioned to early versions of SuitX and Levitate devices in 2016. I’ve been working with different types of exoskeletons in several capacities ever since. 

3. How do you think the market will develop in 5 and 10 years?

I hope we see exoskeletons become more „mainstream“ in 5-10 years, especially for medical purposes where there are real opportunities to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for a wide variety of people with limitations and disabilities. I also see great potential for exoskeletons in the occupational and consumer markets. I’ve certainly seen progress since I began working with exoskeletons, but there is still a ton of work to be done.

4. What are the biggest obstacles / bottlenecks you currently see in the distribution of exoskeletons?

Awareness. Price. Aesthetics. Attitudes. Friction. Politics.

5. What’s the best way for you to switch off?

Sleeping. Breathwork. Hiking. Watching movies. 

6. Who would you like to spend a day with?

Arnold Schwarzenneger 

7. How can we use exoskeletons for athletes or to benefit all people who want to use technology to be fitter?

Exoskeletons have already created opportunities for people with disabilities to become adaptive athletes and participate in adaptive sports. We’ve seen people with spinal cord injuries use exoskeletons to complete races and events over various distances including marathons. We’ve also seen people ski with assistance from exoskeletons. We’ve seen events like the Cybathlon exoskeleton races. These are all examples of how exoskeletons are already used by people for athletic pursuits. Exoskeleton use by people for training or exercise to become fitter is certainly possible, and we are also seeing some devices being advertised for this already. I can also imagine a future where we can wear exoskeletons to help us participate in activities that we might no longer have the strength or endurance to enjoy without them.

8. What needs to happen for more hospitals and physiotherapists to use exoskeletons or gait robots for the early mobilization of patients? Are there alternatives that you can recommend?

There are several things hospitals, therapists, and patients need to consider when using exoskeletons for medical purposes. Cost. Reimbursement. Access. Usability. Safety. Patient diagnosis, presentation, and stage of rehabilitation. Patient and provider ability and willingness to use the exoskeleton. The level of independence that the exoskeleton can afford the patient compared to other mobility and assistive devices. The benefits (or lack thereof) of using exoskeletons compared to traditional treatments. This is just a short list and there are many more considerations. When all the pieces of the puzzle fit, then using exoskeletons might be a good option. The ASTM Exo Technology Center of Excellence recently published a survey of medical practitioners about their perspectives regarding exoskeletons. That project touched on these topics so I’d encourage anyone interested in learning more on these topics to read that report. 

9. Since 2015, you have been advising companies on the successful implementation of exoskeletons. Here you have helped hundreds of companies. How do you explain an exoskeleton during the initial contact with the customer and what expectations do the customers have?

When it comes to the customers‘ expectations, most people think of Hollywood movies or simply don’t know what to expect at first when it comes to occupational exoskeletons. I always try to keep the initial contact as simple and relatable as possible. If the users are familiar with harnesses, I might describe the exoskeleton as a safety harness with some new or special features. I might tell them it’s like having an extra set of exo-muscles to help reduce the strain on their own body. I might say that a shoulder exoskeleton feels like having a friend holding up their arms, or a back exoskeleton feels like having somebody helping with a team lift.  As far as setting expectations, I tell people the truth about exoskeletons. Don’t oversell them. Keep it real.

10. Is there a thesis about exoskeletons or their development that only you share and that others see quite differently, respectively that differs from many other theses?

The devils are in the details when it comes to exoskeletons. This applies to their design, testing, research, implementation, standards, and more. Designing exoskeletons that people will actually use is a skill. Matching exoskeletons to the right jobs, tasks, environments, people, and reasons for using them is a skill. Fitting them on people properly is a skill. Evaluating exoskeleton use is a skill. Designing customized implementation programs and overseeing the use of exoskeletons are skills. Skills take practice. Practice is experience. And experience matters. 

About Prime Performance LLC:

We are a team of highly skilled and passionate practitioners who share a common goal of helping you thrive. Our team has diverse backgrounds and experience. We have deep knowledge and a strong commitment to improving human health and performance. We draw on the latest research and techniques and take an evidence-based approach to help you get fast results. We’ve been practicing our crafts this way for decades, and are respected experts in our fields.


Matthew Marino, PT, MSPT (he/him)

CEO and Head of Performance | Prime Performance LLC

Physical Therapist

Certified Professional Ergonomist

Certified Performance and Sport Scientist

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator

Certified Personal Trainer

m: 503-863-6062

e: [email protected]

Tom Illauer

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