Paraplegic Walks Again With the Help of This Device

Sean Maloney was only 18 the last time he walked. He was injured while on his motocross at Riverdale Raceways in southwest Washington in 2012.

 

But now he's able to walk again, thanks to this medical device. It's a battery-powered exoskeleton and he's the third patient at UW Medical Center to trial it. The hospital has leased to ReWalk from the manufacturer for a year. It's the only hospital testing the device and it's already approved by the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration 

 

“Our primary reason for developing this program is to give people with paraplegia the experience of walking.  This serves as additional data to decide whether this technology is suitable for them and worth purchasing,” said Dr. Maria Reyes, medical director of spinal cord injury rehabilitation for UW Medicine.

“These devices are still early in their development and we want to see which patients are the best candidates.”

The device has been available in Europe for years. The cost is $72,000. It is not currently covered by insurers although there have been a few successful claims.  

Granted it's not as fast as a wheelchair, but it offers patients a little more freedom and a chance to actually stand up and walk again which can certainly help patients psychologically. Physiologically, it can help with bowel and bladder function as well as muscle spasticity. Conditions that are exacerbated by constant sitting. 

“These devices are still early in their development and we want to see which patients are the best candidates," said Dr. Maria Reyes, medical director of spinal cord injury rehabilitation for UW Medicine.

The device also comes with a rechargeable battery that can be worn with a backpack. What a wonderful device that can help so many!