People who have suffered a spinal cord injury, such as from a car accident, look for any way they can regain as much physical ability as possible. Walking again, and other actions some take for granted is a goal for victims of paralysis.
A device that is in the testing phase in the U.S. may soon provide a boost for people in Los Angeles with a spinal cord injury. The device, called the ReWalk rehabilitation system, uses robotic technology to get paralyzed people back on their feet, at least for a little while.
The user straps his or her back and legs into the device, which weighs 44 pounds and allows him or her to stand up and walk, with the help of crutches. The ReWalk automatically detects shifts in the user’s balance, and helps him or her walk with a natural gait.
By using the ReWalk, the patient can exercise muscles in his or her arms and legs that normally stay dormant and atrophy. Beyond that, nerve pathways can become stimulated, possibly leading to improved sensation or motion in paralyzed areas, a doctor said.
For now, the ReWalk is not approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, but it is in the testing phase.
One man testing it out was left paralyzed after a spinal cord injury about four years ago. He said he enjoyed using the ReWalk to stand up and kiss his girlfriend.
Hopefully, devices like this one will be common someday, and spinal injuries will be more easily reversible.
Source: KVUE-TV, “Robotic suit helps spinal cord injury patients walk,” Jim Bergamo, Jan. 21, 2014