New Technology Could Help Paralyzed Patients Walk Again

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Robots can assemble cars, vacuum floors, and even defuse bombs.

Now, robots are helping paralyzed patients walk again, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

Having the ability to walk again is the number one dream for anybody who has ever lost it due to trauma, disease, or stroke.

Scientists have yet to come up with a way to fix damage to the nervous system, but robotics can help paralyzed patients stand up and walk again.

Inbal Pezaro has spent her life paralyzed from the waist down.

“I was born with a disability. I’ve never felt the feeling of how it is to really walk like “normal” people do,” she said.

Pezaro is now walking again with the help of an Israeli robot called a “re-walk”. It’s an exoskeleton that uses sensors, motorized joints, a battery pack, and braces to allow paraplegics to stand up and walk.

“I can say in a good way, I mean that my feet are tired. I know what it feels like and it’s amazing,” Pezaro said.

Amit Goffer invented the “re-walk” and has a personal stake in the device. Goffer was paralyzed in a car accident 16 years ago.

“After stopping taking all the medicines to clear my mind I was wondering, how come the wheelchair is the only solution?” Goffer said.

The “re-walk” is available in many countries but not the United States.

In the U.S., Ekso Bionics legs are currently being tested at Mt. Sinai’s rehabilitation center. Experts told CBS 2’s Dr. Gomez that the physical act of walking can bring important health benefits including diminished muscle spasms, and better bowel, bladder, and blood pressure control that could offset the $70,000 to $140,000 cost of the device.

“This seems to be a product that pays for itself in just a couple of years,” Argo Technologies, CEO, Larry Jasinski said.

Several companies around the world have began to develop similar robo-legs, including the V.A. which may use the devices to help wounded warriors returning from the Middle East.

Other robotic devices have been developed to help stroke and brain injury patients regain function through robot-assisted physical therapy.

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