Dealing with paralysis is difficult for any family, especially if it was the result of a tragic accident. Research continues to try and help paralysis patients regain strength and hopefully walk again. Robotic exoskeletons have been in development for a number of years to assist in this process. Now, a high-tech version being used as part of a clinical trial shows paralyzed men and women what it will be like to use their legs once again.
A carbon-fiber exoskeleton from Indego was recently approved by the FDA, only the second exoskeleton to do so. Instead of weighing close to 100 pounds like the first model, the new robotic device is just 26 pounds. It wraps around the lower body and legs, and moves the legs for the patient. A 31-year-old man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a sledding accident eight years ago showed off the new exoskeleton last week at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. The Long Island hospital is only one of nine facilities in the nation taking part in the clinical trial study. Other locations include NYU Rusk Rehabilitation in Manhattan, and facilities in major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta.
Currently, an app controls the exoskeleton with the help of the person’s upper body movement and breathing. Doctors and researchers are looking to include electrical simulation in the next version of the exoskeleton so patients will be able to use their own muscles. So far the trials have been with patients with spinal cord injuries, and as the study continues it will begin to include stroke patients. As for the man who was able to walk across the room with the device and some assistance, he said he, “felt tall again,” and it was, “pretty emotional and empowering,” to be able to hug his sister face to face.
While the robotic exoskeleton has been approved by the FDA, it is not widely covered by insurance companies, and the cost can reach up to $100,000. Hopefully, as the device continues through trials and more patients have access to it, the cost will decrease. Until then, it will at least give paralyzed individuals some hope for the future. If you or someone you love has suffered paralysis as the result of an accident, please call the skilled and compassionate attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to help recover the compensation you and your family deserve.